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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2006 Jun;35(2):264-74.

A prospective test of the hopelessness theory of depression in children.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA. bgibb@binghamton.edu


Providing a developmental extension of the cognitive theories of depression, researchers and theorists have suggested that during early to middle childhood, attributional styles may mediate rather than moderate the association between negative life events and the development of depression. Within the context of the hopelessness theory of depression, we tested this hypothesis in a 6-month longitudinal study of 4th- and 5th-grade children. Using path analysis, we found support for the mediating role of attributional styles among both 4th and 5th graders. Supporting recent refinements in the hopelessness theory, the best fitting mediation model was one in which depressive symptoms exhibited reciprocal relations with the other variables. Specifically, attributional styles partially mediated the link between verbal victimization and residual change in depressive symptoms. In addition, initial depressive symptoms predicted negative changes in children's attributional styles and increases in verbal victimization across the follow-up. Contrary to our hypothesis, we also found support for the moderating role of attributional styles, although this was significant only among 5th graders.

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