chapter  8
24 Pages

Explanatory Style in Anxiety and Depression

Much research over the past decade has addressed the hypothesis of the refor­ mulated learned helplessness theory of depression (Abramson, Seligman, & Teas­ dale, 1 978) that depressed individuals tend to have a particular explanatory style, and that individuals who have this explanatory style when nondepressed are at risk for depression if negative life events occur. The hypothesized depressive explanatory style is characterized by internal, stable, and global attributions for negative events , and external , unstable and specific attributions for positive events . 1 Although not every study examining the question of whether depressed individuals have this explanatory style has corroborated this hypothesis, there have been a large number of supportive studies. Indeed, Sweeney, Anderson, and Bailey ( 1 986) conducted a meta-analysis of 1 04 studies and concluded that there was strong support for the link between the pessimistic explanatory style for negative events and depression, and weak to moderate support for the link between the pessimistic style for positive events and depress ion. As discussed later, evidence supporting the idea that a pessimistic explanatory style in nonde­ pressed individuals serves as a diathesis for depression is somewhat more mixed

(for reviews see Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1 989; Barnett & Gotlib, 1 988 ; Peterson & Seligman, 1 984a) .