First Advisor

Richard W. Wollert

Date of Publication

Winter 1981

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Mental Depression



Physical Description

1 online resource (58 p.)


This thesis was an attempt to investigate two important cognitive aspects of depression: expectation of success, and changes in this expectation. Recent studies in these areas have yielded inconsistent results. It has generally been concluded that subclinical depressives do not differ from nondepressives in initial expectation of success, though they do at times exhibit smaller changes in success expectancy following personal experiences of success or failure. Two main cognitive theories of depression have attempted to account for this difference between the two populations. Beck (1967) has proposed that depression results from specific negative cognitive processes, among them a denial of personal responsibility of positive events and an exaggeration of personal responsibility for negative events. According to this theory, depressives would have a lower initial expectation of success than nondepressives and would exhibit a smaller increase in success expectancy following success and a larger decrease in success expectancy following failure. Seligman (1975) has proposed that depression results when an individual learns that responses and outcomes are independent of one another, and then makes negative, internal attributions about the cause of that independence. On the basis of Seligman's theory, one could conclude that since depressives see action and outcome as independent, they would shift success expectancy less following both success and failure.


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