Negative cognitive style and its correlates in children and adolescents at varied risk for depression
Dunbar, Jennifer Elizabeth Potts
The current study examined correlates of child negative cognitive style in a sample of 115 children and adolescents (age 9 to 15-years-old) and their mothers with varied depression histories. The present study also developed a new interview measure to quantify cognitive vulnerability for depression (specifically generality of causal attributions) in children and parents (the Child Cognitive Style Interview or CCSI, and the Parent Cognitive Style Interview or PCSI). The CCSI and PCSI were conducted with a subset of 60 mother-child dyads from the full sample in the current study. Findings from the present study indicate the CCSI and PCSI are positively related to questionnaire measures of negative cognitive style and with depressive symptoms. This study also provides evidence of positive associations between maternal and child cognitive vulnerability for depression as well as positive associations between maternal negative inferential feedback and child cognitive vulnerability for depression. Withdrawn and harsh parenting behaviors were not related to child cognitive vulnerability for depression. The current study also provides evidence that the associations between maternal variables (i.e., maternal negative inferential feedback and maternal generality of causal attributions) and child negative cognitive style are moderated by maternal current depressive symptoms, such that these associations are stronger at higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms. Finally, the current study provides an extension of prior findings of positive associations between cognitive vulnerability for depression and depressive symptoms in children and adults. Implications of these findings, strengths and limitations of the current study, and future directions for this research are also discussed.