British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 39 Issue 2 (June 2000), Pages 111-221

Associations between primary appraisals and life‐events while controlling for depression (pages 143-155)

Objectives. The main objective of this paper was to explore the associations between life‐events and primary appraisals (threat, challenge and loss) controlling for depression. It was predicted that specific associations between life‐events and primary appraisals would remain once depression had been partialled. A subgoal of this paper was to develop a content analytic coding frame for student life‐events.

Design. This study was a retrospective survey in which participants provided accounts of recent stressful encounters, and completed indices of primary appraisals and depression.

Method. The participants were 979 undergraduates who provided descriptions of life‐events. A subsample of 391 provided additional information on primary appraisals and depression. The primary outcomes were the partial correlations between life‐events and primary appraisals.

Results. There were significant associations between life‐events and primary appraisals above and beyond variance explained by depression. Results also indicated that the definition of loss appraisals could be extended to include events that were related to anticipated future loss, especially if the event was also perceived as threatening. Also certain self‐defined negative life‐events were appraised as positive. Life‐events were shown to vary systematically as a function of external constraints (e.g. stage of the academic year).

Conclusions. A variety of events were associated with loss appraisals and this may have implications for risk factors in depression.

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