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DEPRESSION AND CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS FOR UNEXPECTED STRESSFUL EVENTS

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Although there is general evidence of an association between attribution and depression, research examining causal attributions for life events has provided little consistent evidence for the attributional model of depression. The present study tested whether the controllability and expectedness of the event moderate the association between attribution dimensions and depression. A sample of 242 students completed measures of depression and rated a recent stressful life event in terms of its perceived causality (i.e., locus, stability, and globality) as well as its controllability and expectedness. Correlational analyses confirmed past indications that there is little association between depression and causal attributions. However, there were significant correlations between depression and globality. Subsequent regression analyses found that the perceived controllability of the event did not moderate the association between attribution and depression. In contrast, regression analyses involving the expectedness variable showed that the locus attribution dimension interacted with expectedness to predict depression. An internal attribution for an unexpected event was associated with increased depression. Overall, the findings suggest that the attribution model may be applicable to attributions for unexpected life problems. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of examining aspects of actual life events that may moderate the association between attributions and depression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1991-01-01

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