Date of Award

Fall 11-4-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Amy Mezulis

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Thane Erickson

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall

Abstract

Depression is a significant mental health concern. Cognitive-affective models of depression identify that negative emotions and cognitive strategies for responding to negative emotions contribute to the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms. Shame has been identified as a problematic negative emotion and is associated with multiple mental health concerns including depression. Research has begun to examine cognitive emotion regulation strategies individuals use when experiencing shame and how these contribute to depressive symptoms. This study examined three strategies jointly (avoidance, brooding, and suppression) in a three-part prospective design. In a sample of 137 young adults, three hypotheses were tested. Participants ranged from 18 to 29-years-old (M = 19.29, SD = 1.56), 83.2% of the participants were female, and 74.5% were Caucasian. In cross-sectional analyses, shame-proneness predicted depressive symptoms (B = .029, 95% CI = .010 to .048, p = .003) and brooding mediated this relationship as hypothesized (B = .010, 95% CI = .003 to .019, p = .005). In prospective analyses shame-proneness marginally predicted depressive symptoms (B = .016, 95% CI = -.002 to .033, p = .074) and only suppression mediated the relationship when controlling for guilt-proneness (B = .012, 95% CI = .004 to .024, p = .002). Post hoc analyses of each mediator examined separately supported avoidance (B = .018, Z = 3.251, p = .001), brooding (B = .020, Z = 3.501, p = .001), and suppression (B = .022, Z = 3.602, p < .001) as cognitive strategies in the relationship between shame-proneness and depressive symptoms prospectively. State shame was predicted to mediate the relationship between shame-proneness and state brooding, avoidance, and suppression. The shame induction did induce a significant change in shame [t (114) = -2.814, p = .006] but a small effect (r = .25). Therefore, hypothesis 3 was not supported. However, shame-proneness did predict use of avoidance (B = .003, p = .048) and brooding in the moment (B = .003, p = .071). These findings suggest that shame-proneness and avoidance, brooding, and suppression are significant factors to consider in treating depression. Future directions of research and clinical implications are discussed.

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