Life stress and the accuracy of cognitive appraisals in depressed youth

Elisa Krackow, Karen D. Rudolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the accuracy of depressed youths' appraisals of naturally occurring life events. Participants (49% girls; M age = 12.44 years) with clinical diagnoses of depression (n = 24), subsyndromal symptoms of depression (n = 29), and no symptoms of psychopathology (n = 36) completed semi-structured interviews of life stress. As predicted, depressed youth experienced more independent and self-generated interpersonal stress than did nonsymptomatic youth. Consistent with a cognitive bias, clinically depressed youth overestimated the stressfulness of events and overestimated their contribution to events relative to nonsymptomatic youth. Youth with subsyndromal symptoms demonstrated similar, although typically less severe, impairment than those with clinical depression. Results contribute to cognitive-interpersonal models of depression by illustrating the need to consider both realistic interpersonal difficulties and biased appraisals of experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-385
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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