Measuring the Short-Term Mood of Adolescents: Reliability and Validity of the State Form of the Depression Adjective Check Lists

Article excerpt

The effects of depressive affect on a range of cognitive (Blankstein, Flett, & Johnson, 1992; Crocker, Alloy, & Kayne, 1988; Doerfler, Mullins, Griffin, Siegel, & Richards, 1984; D'Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971; Gong-Guy & Hammen, 1980; Haaga, 1989; Heppner, Kampa, Reeder & Larson, 1983; Hettina & Ballif, 1981) and social and behavioral factors (Butler & Miechenbaum, 1980; D'Zurilla & Sheedy, 1991; Wierzbicki, 1984) have been known for some time. Depressive affect has also been found to be an important aspect of the depression syndrome (American Psychiatric Association, 1987; Levitt, Lubin, & Brooks, 1983), and suicidal ideation (Pietromonaco & Markus, 1985; Schotte & Clum, 1982; Strack, Blaney, Ganellen, & Coyne, 1985).

These relationships are of particular interest in the study of adolescence which has been identified with moodiness, self-absorption, and ego vulnerability (Butler, 1983; Harris & Howard, 1987; Siddique & D'Arcy, 1984; Rierdan, Kopp, & Stubbs, 1987). The often noted volatile affect and impetuous behavior of adolescents seems to mean that many parents and teachers are concerned.

As most of the self-report measures of depressive affect for use with adolescents have either a strong pathological focus, measure more than depressive affect, have a time set that is more than the current day, or have only one form of the instrument (e.g., the Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (Radloff, 1977; Roberts, Andrews, Lewinsohn, & Hops, 1990), and the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (Reynolds, 1987), this article presents the Depression Adjective Check Lists (DACL; Lubin, 1981, in press), an instrument that avoids the above limitations and that might be useful in research and clinical work with adolescents.

The DACL consists of two sets of lists. Each of the four equivalent, alternate lists of Set 1 (A, B, C, D) has 32 adjectives, 22 that connote depressive mood, and 10 that do not; each of the three equivalent, alternate lists of Set 2 (E, F, G) has 34 adjectives, 22 that connote depressive mood, and 12 that do not. Adjectives within Set 1 and within Set 2 are nonrecurring. The DACL's brevity, ease of administration, and equivalent alternate forms have contributed to their wide use in research and clinical practice (Lubin, Swearngin, & Seaton, 1992).


Data were collected in two separate studies. No individual participated in more than one study.

Study 1

Subjects. Students in the seventh (N = 64; M = 29, F = 35), eighth (N = 56; M = 22, F = 34), and ninth (N = 58, M = 31, F = 27) grades of a junior-senior high school in a moderate size midwestern city served as subjects. Age by grade statistics for males were: 7th (M = 13.21, SD = 1.79), 8th (M = 14.32, SD = 1.47), and 9th (M = 15.63, SD = 1.61). Age by grade statistics for females were: 7th (M = 13.02, SD = .62), 8th (M = 14.11, SD = .46), and 9th (M = 15.32, SD = 1.20). The percentage of non-white students was 12 at the 7th grade, 16 at the 8th grade, and 14 at the 9th grade. Non-white students were predominantly black and approximately equally distributed between males and females. The modal student was lower middle SEC.

Instruments. Maximum score for each list of Set 1 (A, B, C, D) of the DACL is 32. The time set is "today." Goodstein (1974) and Petzel (1985) reviewed the DACL and found the reliability and validity to be high when used with adults. The reading level has been established as Grade 8 (Lubin, Collins, Seever, & Whitlock, 1991), although it has been demonstrated that there is no loss in reliability or validity if the instrument is administered to those whose reading competence is at Grade 7 (Lubin, Collins, Seever, Whitlock, & Dennis, 1990).

The Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS; Zung, 1965). The SDS is a 20-item measure of depression. …


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