A gender comparison of cognitive vulnerability as a function of moderation and mediation between negative life events and depressive mood

Sungeun You, Purdue University

Abstract

The primary goal of this study was to examine gender differences in cognitive pathways to depression among a college student population. The moderating and mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and negative inferential styles in the relationship between negative life events and depressive mood were tested separately by gender. 306 undergraduate students (171 men and 135 women) who completed the Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II), Inventory to Diagnose Depression, Lifetime Version (IDDL), Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS), Cognitive Style Questionnaire (CSQ), and Life Experiences Survey (LES) were included in this study. The results suggest that dysfunctional attitudes serve as a moderator of the relationship between negative life events and depressive mood for women but not for men, whereas dysfunctional attitudes serve as a partial mediator in the relationship for men but not for women. Interestingly, after controlling for a lifetime history of depression, dysfunctional attitudes function as a moderator for both men and women. Yet, the roles of dysfunctional attitudes differ across gender: Women with high levels of dysfunctional attitudes were more likely to experience depressive mood in the presence of negative life events, whereas men with low levels of dysfunctional attitudes were more sensitive to life stress than men with high dysfunctional attitudes. These results indicate that dysfunctional attitudes might function as a buffer for men's depression. No moderating or mediating effects were found for negative inferential styles among either gender. For both women and men, negative inferential styles had direct effects on their current depressive mood. The results indicate that Beck's theory partially explains differential pathways to depression across gender, whereas the hopelessness theory does not account for the gender difference in depression. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Rebecca Merritt, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

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