Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this study was to examine concurrently the Beck and Seligman cognitive theories of depression. The study involved the testing of task perceptions, and self-referent perceptions more germane to the theories. The relevance of Bandura's self-efficacy construct, to the understanding of depression, was also assessed. Further, issues pertaining to the assessment of depression and to the generalizability of experimental tasks were investigated.;The subjects in the study were undergraduate university women, who qualified for one of three subject groups. On the basis of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a nondepressed (Normal) and depressed group (Severity) were formed. An additional depressed group (Clinical) was derived using both a severity criterion (BDI) and the Research Diagnostic Criteria.;The study involved a 3 (subject group) x 2 (task) factorial design. Half of the subjects from each group were assigned the Alloy and Abramson task, involving the problem of determining amount of control over the outcome. The other subjects received the Wener and Rehm task, in which they were to maximize their success. Regardless of the task condition, all subjects received experimenter-controlled feedback to only 20% of their responses.;The Clinically depressed group differed from the other two groups on most of the dependent measures relevant to Beck's theory, but only on the measure of the central tenant of Seligman's theory. Overall, the results of this study generally supported Beck's cognitive theory but not Seligman's learned helplessness theory of depression. Consideration was also given to the relevance of the concept of self-efficacy and of stress to depression, as well as the importance of subject selection criteria in depression research.



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