DEVELOPMENTAL STUDIES OF EXPLANATORY STYLE, AND LEARNED HELPLESSNESS IN CHILDREN [electronic resource].
- Clinical psychology
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- Mode of access: World Wide Web.
- The three studies reported here investigate the relationship in children between causal explanations for events and learned helplessness deficits (operationalized as depressive symptoms or deficits in achievement-related behaviors). In Study 1, measures of explanatory styles and depressive symptoms were obtained five times over the course of one year in 168 children from 8 to 11 years of age. Measures of school achievement and achievement-related behavioral deficits were obtained once during the year. As predicted by the reformulated learned helplessness theory, explanatory style both correlated with concurrent levels of depression and school achievement and predicted later changes in depression over the year. Depression also predicted later explanatory styles.
In Study 2, the data on explanatory style, depression, and helpless behaviors in fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from Study 1 were compared to data on the same variables in first graders. Among the first graders, as among the older children, the maladaptive explanatory style was associated with greater levels of depression and helpless behaviors. With increasing age, children chose more stable and global explanations for bad events, but less internal explanations for bad events. These data suggest that with age a child becomes less optimistic but perhaps more likely to appeal to situational factors to explain bad events. Helplessness scores increased with age, but depression scores decreased with age.
Study 3 was an investigation of age changes in explanatory styles and their relation with helplessness deficits. A semi-structured interview was used to elicit explanations for achievement and social events from 94 children from 4 to 8 years of age. In addition, teacher ratings of helplessness deficits were obtained for each child. With increasing age, children named more internal and controllable causes in their explanations for events. Explanatory style was associated with helpless behaviors in kindergarten, first, and third grade children, but not in preschoolers.
Possible social or cognitive factors that could lead to the observed changes in explanatory style and its relationship to depression are discussed. Also, the implications of these results for cognitive interventions with children with depressive symptoms or school achievement problems are discussed.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 47-07, Section: B, page: 3119.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 1986.
- Local notes:
- School code: 0175.
- University of Pennsylvania.
- Contained In:
- Dissertation Abstracts International 47-07B.
- Access Restriction:
- Restricted for use by site license.
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