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According to the hopelessness theory of depression (Psychological Review 96:358–372, 1989), individuals with a cognitive vulnerability are at risk for depression because they generate event-specific negative inferences for stressful life events. Although prior studies have found an association between cognitive vulnerability and event-specific negative inferences, conclusions from these studies have been limited by weak correlations and a failure to examine how event-specific inferences change over time. The current study attempted to reconcile and extend prior work using a midterm design (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 43:612–617, 1982, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52:386–393, 1987, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 102:101–109, 1993). Participants’ event-specific negative inferences for a poor midterm grade were assessed at three time points during a 1-week prospective interval. Consistent with hypotheses, results showed that, if given enough time, the relationship between cognitive vulnerability and event-specific negative inferences becomes robust. Further, event-specific negative inferences on day 3, but not initial event-specific negative inferences, predicted increases in depressive symptoms over the prospective interval. The implications of these results for the cognitive theories of depression are discussed.
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- After Further Deliberation: Cognitive Vulnerability Predicts Changes in Event-Specific Negative Inferences for a Poor Midterm Grade
Gerald J. Haeffel
- Springer US