Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Causal Model of Hopelessness Depression in Chinese Undergraduate Students

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Causal Model of Hopelessness Depression in Chinese Undergraduate Students

Article excerpt

The diathesis-stress component hypothesis and the mediational role of hopelessness proposed by the hopelessness theory of depression were tested using data from a 16-week longitudinal study of Chinese university undergraduates. Participants (N = 240) completed self-report measures assessing attributional style, negative life events, hopelessness, and hopelessness depression symptoms at 3 time points. The diathesis-stress hypothesis was tested using the latent growth curve model and results showed that as postulated in the hopelessness theory, depressogenic attributional style predicted hopelessness depression following the occurrence of negative life events. Specifically, hopelessness played a partial mediating role in the etiological chain of hopelessness depression.

Keywords: attributional style, hopelessness, mediation, hopelessness depression, latent growth curve model.

Hopelessness theory is a diathesis-stress theory of depression that posits a series of contributory causes that interact with one another to culminate in a specific subtype of depression, that is, hopelessness depression (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989). According to die theory's attributional vulnerabUity hypodiesis, a depressogenic attributional style (i.e., die tendency to view the causes of negative events as global and stable) serves as a cognitive vulnerability factor leading to hopelessness depression. The hopelessness tiieory consists of die diatiiesis-stress and causal mediation components. In the former component it is postulated mat individuals who exhibit a depressogenic attributional style (diathesis) are more likely man those who do not, to ascribe any particular negative event tìiey experience (stress) to a stable and global cause, thereby increasing the probability of becoming hopeless and then developing the symptoms of hopelessness depression. However, in tìie absence of negative events, people exhibiting a depressogenic attributional style should be no more likely to become depressed than people who do not possess this style. Thus, a depressogenic attributional style is a vulnerabUity factor giving rise to the development of symptoms of hopelessness depression by interacting with negative life events. Empirical evidence generally supports the diadiesis-stress component (e.g., Abela, Aydin, & Auerbach, 2006; Gibb, Beevers, Andover, & Holleran, 2006; Hankin, Abramson, Miller, & Haeffel, 2004). In the causal mediation component it is posited diat hopelessness mediates between the diadiesis-stress component and hopelessness depression symptoms in the etiological chain. Available evidence is inconsistent, with some researchers providing full or partial support for this hypothesis (e.g., Hong, Gwee, & Karia, 2006) and others showing no support (e.g., Abela, 2001; Stone, Gibb, & Coles, 2010)

Although much is known about the diadiesis-stress component, only a few studies of me hopelessness tiieory have been carried out witìi undergraduate samples in China (e.g., Wang & Zhang, 2006; Xin, Ma, & Geng, 2006). Despite die strengths of tìiese Chinese studies, Gibb and colleagues (2006) found some common limitations. Firstìy, in tìiese studies depression symptoms in Chinese undergraduates were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck & Steer, 1987) and die BDI does not include all symptoms of hopelessness in the inventory. Secondly, only one or two links in die etiological chain of die hopelessness dieory were tested separately whüe considering dieir possible causal relationships. Thirdly, in the majority only two assessment points were used and typically negative life events were assessed at die end of die study, using this measurement to predict changes in depression symptoms over the follow-up. The test of the diadiesis-stress hypothesis in these studies was primarily carried out using padi analysis and hierarchical multiple regression analysis, the latter of which takes a nomothetic approach. …

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