Does “Why” Matter? The Effects of Causal Attributions for Depression

Newell, Elise (2014). Does “Why” Matter? The Effects of Causal Attributions for Depression Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Newell, Elise
Thesis Title Does “Why” Matter? The Effects of Causal Attributions for Depression
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Tegan Cruwys
Total pages 107
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary The conceptualisation of mental disorders has been evolving with a strong movement towards medicalisation, emphasising biological factors as causes for disorders such as depression. Research within general populations indicates that biological causal beliefs about depression reduce blame of sufferers, however do not decrease stigma and decrease hopefulness for recovery. It is theorised that this occurs because of genetic essentialism. There is little existing experimental research examining the effects of causal attributions for depression among people with depression. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by comparing the effects of a biological causal theory of depression to a social theory of depression and included a control group. The social theory of depression holds that a lack of social contact, support, and connectedness can lead to depression. It was proposed that the social theory of depression would lead to more positive expectancies among people with symptoms of depression compared to a biological causal theory. Participants with symptoms of depression (N = 65) were randomly assigned to an experimental group and presented with a journal article abstract which either emphasised a biological or social cause of depression or a control. Contrary to predictions based on previous research there was no significant effect of condition on any of the dependent measures (all ps > .10). However, exploratory analyses indicated that the experimental conditions may have had an effect on participants’ perception of their depression symptoms.
Keyword Effects
Causal attributions

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Created: Wed, 29 Apr 2015, 11:12:59 EST by Anita Whybrow on behalf of School of Psychology