Depressogenic cognitive styles: predictive validity, information processing and personality characteristics, and developmental origins

Behav Res Ther. 1999 Jun;37(6):503-31. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(98)00157-0.


Two of the major cognitive theories of depression, the theory of Beck [Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: clinical, experimental and theoretical aspects. New York: Harper & Row. and Beck, A. T. (1987) Cognitive models of depression. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: an International Quarterly, 1, 5-37] and the hopelessness theory [Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, (1989) Hopelessness depression: a theory-based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96, 358-372], include the hypothesis that particular negative cognitive styles increase individuals' likelihood of developing episodes of depression, in particular, a cognitively mediated subtype of depression, when they encounter negative life events. The Temple-Wisconsin Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression (CVD) project is a two-site, prospective longitudinal study designed to test this cognitive vulnerability hypothesis, as well as the other etiological hypotheses of Beck's and the hopelessness theories of depression. In this article, based on CVD project findings to date, we review evidence that the hypothesized depressogenic cognitive styles do indeed confer vulnerability for clinically significant depressive disorders and suicidality. In addition, we present evidence regarding moderators of these depressogenic cognitive styles, the information processing and personality correlates of these styles and the possible developmental antecedents of these styles. We end with a consideration of future research directions and the clinical implications of cognitive vulnerability to depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Depression / classification
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Processes
  • Models, Psychological
  • Negativism
  • Personality Development*
  • Recurrence
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*