Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Derek R. Hopko

Committee Members

Jenny Macfie, Todd Moore

Abstract

Insufficient response-contingent positive reinforcement (RCPR), or pleasure obtained through interaction with the environment that increases the likelihood of rewarding behavior, has been hypothesized to directly contribute to the onset and persistence of depression symptoms (Lewinsohn, 1974; Lewinsohn, Sullivan, & Grosscup, 1980). The present study examined the utility of RCPR in predicting the presence and severity of depression symptoms relative to other well-established risk factors that included gender, stressful life events, traumatic life events, childhood maltreatment, and cognitive vulnerability. Based on bivariate and hierarchical regression analyses, all variables except gender were significantly associated with the severity of depression symptoms, with RCPR most strongly related to depression symptom severity. The incremental validity of RCPR in predicting depression symptom severity also was established, with RCPR accounting for an additional 12% of the variance when added to a regression equation. Implications for the conceptualization and treatment of depression are discussed.

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