ATTRIBUTIONAL STYLE IN THREE OUTPATIENT GROUPS: RELATIONSHIP TO NEGATIVE LIFE EVENTS AND DEPRESSION.
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to explore the interaction of negative life events, attributional style and depression in three different outpatient groups. Secondarily, the study examined the relationship of various demographic variables to depression and attributional style. The subjects were 261 outpatients at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, California. They included both males and females, 20 to 75 years of age, from three departments: Psychiatry, Medicine and Adult Health. Patients who volunteered for the study were given packets consisting of a demographic data sheet and three questionnaires: the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI, Short Form), the Life Experiences Survey (LES), and the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ). According to BDI and LES scores, subjects were divided into depressed and non-depressed groups and three levels of negative life change: high, moderate and low. The data were analyzed by a multivariate analysis of variance, followed by t-tests which compared the ASQ scores of depressed and non-depressed individuals at the high level of negative life change in each of the three outpatient groups. The results indicated that depressed and non-depressed Psychiatric outpatients, who had experienced high levels of recent negative life change, differed significantly in their attributional styles for hypothetically "bad" events on the ASQ. As hypothesized, the attributional styles of depressed Psychiatric outpatients were significantly more stable and global (and higher in composite total) than that of non-depressed Psychiatric outpatients. However, depressed and non-depressed Medical and Adult Health outpatients, who had experienced similarly high levels of recent negative life change, did not differ significantly in their attributional styles. Overall, the study lends support to the reformulated model of learned helplessness, but raises questions concerning the applicability of that model within particular clinical groups. It was recommended that future studies use formal diagnostic criteria in addition to the BDI, and that they employ prospective designs which follow "at risk" individuals over time.