Hopelessness theory and the approach system: Cognitive vulnerability predicts decreases in goal-directed behavior


Journal Article

The study tested an integration of the hopelessness theory of depression (Abramson et al. 1989) and Davidson's (1994) approach/withdrawal theory of depression in a sample of undergraduates (N = 248). According to this integrated theory (Abramson et al. 2002), cognitive vulnerability to depression interacts with stress to produce hopelessness, which signals a shut-down of the approach system. A shut-down of the approach system is reflected by decreases in goal-directed behavior, and in turn, the symptoms of depression. The study tested the hypothesized etiological chain of cognitive vulnerability-stress, hopelessness, goal-directed behavior, and depressive symptoms. Consistent with hypotheses, cognitive vulnerability interacted with stress to predict changes in goal-directed behavior. Importantly, the relationship between the cognitive vulnerability-stress interaction and goal-directed behavior was mediated by hopelessness. Participants who experienced a decrease in goal-directed behavior had higher levels of depressive symptoms than those who did not experience a decrease in goal-directed behavior. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Haeffel, GJ; Abramson, LY; Brazy, PC; Shah, JY

Published Date

  • April 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 281 - 290

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0147-5916

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10608-007-9160-z

Citation Source

  • Scopus