Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 5 (December 1995), Pages fmi-IV, 291-372

Models of responsibility and depression in unemployed young males and females (pages 291-309)


In line with previous research, unemployed youth (n = 94) in Liverpool, Australia, reported significantly more depression and loss of behavioural/emotional control than their employed counterparts (n = 87). There was a significant sex effect on both of these scales, and no sex by employment status interaction. Detailed interviews with the unemployed group provided the basis for assessing the importance of causal vs solution attributions for the mental health of young unemployed people. Brickman et al.'s (1982) proposition, that causal attributions are independent of solution attributions and that they form four coherent models, found support. The results did not support the learned helplessness model in so far as internal vs external causal attributions for unemployment did not distinguish different levels of personal distress. There were also no gender differences in causal attributions and no differential relationship with indicators of distress. Attributions of repsonsibility for solutions, on the other hand, were clearly related to depression and loss of behavioural/emotional control. However, no sex differences or differential relations with depression emerged on this dimension either. Some implications for further research and practice are included.

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