Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Nick Kuiper

Second Advisor

Cathy Leite


Using Leventhal’s Self-Regulation Model, this thesis investigated the impact of target person (self, other), and symptom severity (mild, moderate) on cognitive representations of depression. Participants rated several different vignettes that systematically varied the target person and symptom severity. As expected, moderate symptoms were viewed as more serious and debilitating, particularly after progressing from mild symptoms. A predicted self-positivity bias was also obtained, with many of the cognitive representations associated with depression being less extreme for the self, when compared to an other. In particular, participants ascribed a shorter timeline, more situational than dispositional causes, more self-help than professional help, less severe consequences, and lower severity labels for the self-referent target. Overall, these findings indicated a need for depression literacy research and theory to more fully consider the influences of target person and symptom severity on cognitive representations of depression. Practical applications of the results to preventative efforts were also discussed.



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