Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

The Contribution of Social Rank and Attachment Theory to Depression in a Non Clinical Sample of Adolescents

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

The Contribution of Social Rank and Attachment Theory to Depression in a Non Clinical Sample of Adolescents

Article excerpt

This study explores the relative contribution of the overall quality of attachment to the mother, to the father and to peers (Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment scales), the style of attachment towards peers (Attachment Questionnaire for Children scale), the social rank variables (submissive behavior and social comparison), and sex and age variables in predicting the depression score (Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) on a non-psychiatric sample of 13-18 year old adolescents (n = 225). Results of our integrated model (adjusted R-Square of .50) show that attachment variables (overall quality of attachment to the father and to the mother), social rank variables (social comparison and submissive behavior), age and sex are important in predicting depressive symptoms during adolescence. Moreover, the attachment to peers variables (quality of attachment to peers, secure and ambivalent style of attachment) and sex are mediated by the social rank variables (social comparison and submissive behavior).

Keywords: depression, adolescence, social rank, attachment, adolescents.

En este estudio se explora la contribución de la calidad general del apego a la madre, al padre y a los iguales (Inventario de Apego con Padres y Pares); el estilo del apego a los iguales (Cuestionario de apego para niños); variables de rango social (conducta sumisa y comparación social); y las variables de género y edad como predictoras de depresión (Escala de Depresión del Centro de Estudios Epidemiológicos) en una muestra no psiquiátrica de adolescentes de 13 a 18 años de edad (n = 225). Los resultados del modelo propuesto (R-cuadrado ajustado de .50) indican que las variables de apego (calidad general de apego al padre o la madre), las variables de rango social (comparación social y conducta sumisa), así como la edad y el género, son importantes a la hora de predecir síntomas depresivos durante la adolescencia. Más aún, las variables de apego hacia los iguales (calidad del apego a los iguales, estilo de apego seguro y ambivalente) y el género, están influenciadas por variables de rango social (comparación social y conducta sumisa).

Palabras clave: depresión, adolescencia, rango social, apego, adolescentes.

The third principal cause of mortality among young people worldwide is suicide, with Europe having the highest levels. This is in one way or another associated with depression (World Head Organization [WHO], 2005). Crosssectional studies of adolescent self-reported depressive symptoms indicate that approximately 20 to 50% of adolescents report significant subsyndromal levels of depression (Hankin, 2006). These rates are comparable across different cultures, e.g., Mexico (Leyva-Jiménez, Hernández- Juárez, Nava-Jiménez, & López-Ganoa, 2007), Turkey (Eskin, Ertekin, Harlak, & Dereboy, 2008), and France (Chabrol, Rodgers, & Rousseau, 2007). The frequency is clearly higher for girls and tends to increase over the years (e.g., Ge, Lorenz, Conger, Elder, & Simons, 1994; Rushton, Forcier, & Schetman, 2002). In summary, these findings clearly show that there is a high prevalence of depression in the adolescent population. Understanding the mechanisms that may underpin the presence of depression in this developmental age appears to be critical.

According to Stevens and Price (2000), psychopathology such as depression can appear whenever the basic needs for individual development are not provided for by the social and physical environment. Two of these basic needs are the need for status or rank and the need for attachment. Therefore, a frustration or an inappropriate activation of at least one of these two elements can give rise to depression.

The social rank theory focuses on social power in relationships (dominant versus submissive behavior) and on judgments of one's relative standing (concerning inferiority or incompetency). The theory proposes that depressive symptoms are a response to losing rank and to a conception of oneself as a loser. …

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