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Behavioral models of depression conceptualize the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms as occurring within a system of response-contingent positive reinforcement (RCPR). Such models propose a negative cycle in which a decrease in positive reinforcement of adaptive, approach-oriented behaviors (i.e., RCPR) results in reduced behavioral activation and increased depressive symptoms, which in turn feeds back into further decreases in positive reinforcement and maintains the cycle. Previous research indicates that RCPR has two lower-order constructs, reward probability and environmental suppressors. The present study evaluated a hypothesized mediational model in which the paths from each of the two domains of RCPR to depressive symptoms are mediated by behavioral activation. The sample consisted of 150 college students (78.0% women), ranging in age from 18 to 47 years (M = 20.81, SD = 3.96), who endorsed moderate to severe depressive symptoms at a baseline (time 1) evaluation. Findings from a path analysis provide support for the mediated path between reward probability at time 1 and depressive symptoms at time 3, via behavioral activation at time 2. In contrast, environmental suppressors at time 1 demonstrated a direct impact on depressive symptoms at time 3, and this relationship was not mediated by behavioral activation at time 2. These findings provide a partial test of behavioral frameworks and provide evidence of separate pathways between domains of RCPR and depressive symptoms.
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- Unpacking Response Contingent Positive Reinforcement: Reward Probability, but Not Environmental Suppressors, Prospectively Predicts Depressive Symptoms via Behavioral Activation
Ryan M. Hill
Jeremy W. Pettit
- Springer US
Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Print ISSN: 0882-2689
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-3505