The influence of cognitive processing style on cognitive distortion in clinical depression

Richard G. MacGillivray1, Pierre Baron2
1Halifax, Canada
2University of Ottawa, Canada
Cite this article:  MacGillivray, R. G., & Baron, P. (1994). The influence of cognitive processing style on cognitive distortion in clinical depression. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 22(2), 145-156.

Volume 22 Issue 2 | e745 | Published: May 1994 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1994.22.2.145

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Beck and his colleagues (Beck, Rush, Shaw and Emery, 1979; Sacco and Beck, 1985) have proposed that depressed people make specific depressotypic errors which are distinct from normal information processing, and which are actuated by depressogenic schemata. The theory of field dependence-independence of Witkin and his colleagues (Witkin and Goodenough, 1981), on the other hand, proposes a model of intraindividually developmentally-consistent cognitive styles, resistant to variation in clinical state. In an effort to resolve this discrepancy, it was hypothesized that the use of specific cognitive errors by clinically-depressed women would reflect their stable ongoing cognitive style, as well as their current depressive state. Thirty clinically depressed women were assessed; statistical profile analyses confirmed that field dependent women made more specific cognitive errors than field independent women. Similar but less specific findings were obtained when the effects of negative life event frequency and depression severity were statistically controlled. A prediction that style-consistent situational variables would differentially influence extent of endorsement of cognitive errors in women of different cognitive styles was not confirmed. These findings are discussed for their implications for Beck and Witkin’s theories.

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