Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. David Dozois

Abstract

Cognitive theories of depression posit that, when activated by an external stressor, negative self-schemas negatively bias information processing. The congruency hypothesis suggests that higher overlap between schema and stressor content results in greater degrees of schema activation. To evaluate these theoretical premises, the current study evaluated whether: 1) cognitive organization is predictive of negative information processing biases following a negative mood prime; and, 2) content domain of cognitive organization interacts with content of mood prime to predict information processing biases. Undergraduate students (N = 157) completed a measure of cognitive organization, underwent a negative mood prime, and completed a measure of interpretation biases. Consistent with hypotheses, cognitive organization in the negative achievement and interpersonal positive domains was predictive of information processing biases. Contrary to predictions, no interaction effects were found. Findings support the notion that cognitive organization is an important vulnerability factor in depression. Limitations and future directions are discussed.


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