Cvd Project Findings

Do Negative Cognitive Styles Confer Vulnerability to Depression?

A primary hypothesis of the cognitive theories of depression is that certain negative cognitive styles confer vulnerability to symptoms and diagnoses of depression. Although cognitive styles are not immutable (Just et al., 2001) and are open to modification (e.g., through cognitive therapy; see DeRubeis & Hollon, 1995), these styles are typically viewed as relatively stable risk factors. Findings from the CVD project have supported the relative stability of cognitive styles. Specifically, the cognitive styles of our participants remained stable from before to during and after intervening episodes of major depression (Berrebbi, Alloy, & Abramson, 2004). In addition, participants' attributions and inferences for particular negative life events they experienced remained stable over the 5-year follow-up (Raniere, 2000). Thus, cognitive styles appear to be a relatively traitlike vulnerability factor.

One method of testing the cognitive theories' vulnerability hypothesis is to examine whether individuals who exhibit negative cognitive styles are more likely to have a history of depression than are individuals with positive cognitive styles. Thus, in the CVD project, HR participants were expected to have higher lifetime prevalence rates of episodic mood disorders (i.e., MD, minor depression [MiD], and HD) than were LR partici-

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