Effect of mood on accessibility of depressive cognitions



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Much of the current research in depression has focused on the negative cognitions known to be correlated with depression. The cognitive theories of depression posited by Beck and Seligman hold that these negative cognitions have a causal role in the development of depressive episodes. However, studies seeking to show a direct causal path from negative cognitions to depressive episode have been inconsistent. This study proposed a cognitive diathesis-stress model of depression showing that depressogenic cognitions are stable vulnerability traits for depression but that access to them is mood state dependent. Subjects for this study were 65 undergraduate formerly depressed (ED) and never depressed (ND) women. Subjects were randomly assigned to a positive or negative mood condition group and their attributional styles and dysfunctional attitudes were assessed before and after a success/failure mood manipulation. The mood manipulation was found to be significantly successful as measured by the Depression Adjective Checklist (DACL) for both positive condition groups but not for either of the negative condition groups. It was hypothesized that the FD-negative group would display more negative cognitions after the negative mood manipulation than they had prior to the procedure and this was confirmed for dysfunctional attitudes. The second hypothesis predicted that the FD-negative group would show the greatest overall shift in cognitions; however, while this group displayed a trend toward a significant shift on dysfunctional attitudes, the ND-negative group exhibited the greatest overall and significant shift. No significant results were found for any group on the Attributional Style Questionnaire. A finding of particular interest in this study was that although the DACL did not reveal a significant mood effect for the negative groups, analysis of the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS) revealed a trend toward a signficant mood effect for both negative groups. It would appear that the negative mood manipulation did have an effect on depressive cognitions - an effect which did not produce depressive affect. Possible explanations for this finding are discussed.



Depression, Mental, Mood (Psychology)