British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 35 Issue 1 (February 1996), Pages 1-162

A test of the hopelessness theory of depression in unemployed young adults (pages 117-132)

Recent research has failed to support the prediction based on hopelessness theory that hopelessness mediates the full relationship between attributional style for negative outcomes and depression. A re‐examination of hopelessness theory, however, provides the hypothesis that a measure of hopelessness containing items directly relevant to an ongoing negative life‐event will mediate the full relationship between attributional style for negative outcomes and depression. Hopelessness theory was extended with a second hypothesis that attributional style for positive outcomes is involved in the aetiology of depression and that hopelessness also mediates the full relationship between attributional style for positive outcomes and depression. The third hypothesis was that a series of ‘background variables’ (e.g. age, sex) omitted in previous research would be implicated in the generation of depression. The three hypotheses were tested and supported with data collected from a sample of young unemployed adults. A further aspect of hopelessness theory overlooked in most research is an ability to account for reductions in depression associated with the cessation of a negative life‐event and occurrence of a positive life‐event. The hopelessness theory and the three hypotheses were again supported with data collected from individuals who were unemployed and others who had recently undergone the transition from unemployment to employment.

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