Cognitive vulnerabilities to depression in an interpersonal and stress generation context

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University of New Brunswick


The etiology and onset of depression is a complicated and multifaceted problem which has long challenged researchers. As the complexities of the interactions between interpersonal and intrapersonal factors become better understood, models necessarily become more complex. The present study represents an attempt to further elucidate the complex transactional nature of depression symptomology by examining the cognitive personality vulnerabilities of sociotropy and autonomy; interpersonal problem behaviours; and life event stressors that may contribute to the onset and maintenance of a depressed mood state. In an effort to improve reporting regarding interpersonal behaviours, a questionnaire, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems – Roommate Version was also developed. One hundred and fifty-two same sex roommate pairs completed questionnaire packages at the Time 1 data collection, and sixty participants also took part in the second data collection, which required participants to complete a second questionnaire package and to participate in an interview. The relationships between sociotropy, autonomy, interpersonal behaviours, and life event stress were examined using multiple regression, bivariate correlation, multivariate multiple regression, and qualitative thematic analysis. The omnibus Transactional Hypothesis (Zuroff, Mongrain, & Santor, 2004) could not be tested due to low statistical power; however, the composite hypotheses provided a number of relevant findings. Notably, interpersonal problems predicted both depressed mood cross-sectionally, and stressful events longitudinally. Additionally, interpersonal problem behaviours played a role in generating both achievement and interpersonal stress. Qualitative analysis revealed that both the type and experience of stress varied by interpersonal problem type. The implications of these findings, as well as limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.