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24-05-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2019

Cognitive Therapy and Research 6/2019

Doubting the Diagnosis but Seeking a Talking Cure: An Experimental Investigation of Causal Explanations for Depression and Willingness to Accept Treatment

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 6/2019
Taban Salem, E. Samuel Winer, D. Gage Jordan, Morgan M. Dorr
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In the current literature there is a general lack of research examining the impact of causal explanations on beliefs about psychotherapy, willingness to accept treatment, and treatment expectancies. The present study was aimed at experimentally investigating effects of causal explanations for depression on treatment-seeking behavior and beliefs. Participants at a large Southern university (N = 139; 78% female; average age 19.77) received bogus screening results indicating high depression risk, then viewed an explanation of depression etiology (fixed biological vs. malleable biopsychosocial) before receiving a treatment referral (antidepressant vs. psychotherapy). Participants accepted the cover story at face value, but some expressed doubts about the screening task’s ability to properly assess their individual depression. Within the skeptics, those given a fixed biological explanation for depression were relatively unwilling to accept either treatment, but those given a malleable biopsychosocial explanation were much more willing to accept psychotherapy. Importantly, differences in skepticism were not due to levels of actual depressive symptoms. Information about the malleability of depression may have a protective effect for persons who otherwise would not accept treatment.

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