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The study tested an integration of the hopelessness theory of depression (Abramson et al. 1989) and Davidson’s (1994) approach/withdrawal theory of depression in a sample of undergraduates (N = 248). According to this integrated theory (Abramson et al. 2002), cognitive vulnerability to depression interacts with stress to produce hopelessness, which signals a shut-down of the approach system. A shut-down of the approach system is reflected by decreases in goal-directed behavior, and in turn, the symptoms of depression. The study tested the hypothesized etiological chain of cognitive vulnerability-stress, hopelessness, goal-directed behavior, and depressive symptoms. Consistent with hypotheses, cognitive vulnerability interacted with stress to predict changes in goal-directed behavior. Importantly, the relationship between the cognitive vulnerability-stress interaction and goal-directed behavior was mediated by hopelessness. Participants who experienced a decrease in goal-directed behavior had higher levels of depressive symptoms than those who did not experience a decrease in goal-directed behavior.
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- Hopelessness Theory and the Approach System: Cognitive Vulnerability Predicts Decreases in Goal-Directed Behavior
Gerald J. Haeffel
Lyn Y. Abramson
Paige C. Brazy
James Y. Shah
- Springer US