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Behav Res Ther. 2006 Nov;44(11):1565-83. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Operationalizing the "vulnerability" and "stress" components of the hopelessness theory of depression: a multi-wave longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, McGill University, Stewart Biological Sciences Building, 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 1B1.


The current study tested of the diathesis-stress component of the hopelessness theory (HT) using (1) a "weakest link" approach towards operationalizing vulnerability (e.g., an individual is as vulnerable to depression as his/her most depressogenic inferential style-DIS) and (2) an idiographic approach towards operationalizing high levels of stress. The procedure involved an initial assessment during which participants completed measures assessing DISs and depressive symptoms. The procedure also involved a series of eight follow-up assessments, occurring every 6 weeks, during which depressive symptoms and hassles were assessed. Hypotheses were tested in two samples of adults (i.e., adults diagnosed with a current MDE and adults diagnosed with a past MDE at Time 1). In line with hypotheses, in both samples, depressogenic weakest links were associated with greater elevations in depressive symptoms following elevations in hassles. At the same time, equally strong support was obtained for the HT when stress was operationalized from a nomothetic perspective and when vulnerability was operationalized as a DIS about causes (but not consequences or self).

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