Relationship between Depressive Symptoms, Performance and Mastery Goals, Rumination and Affect
Baines, George William
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The social cognitive theory of Depression proposed by Rothbaum et al. (2008) integrates theory originating from the motivation, cognitive and rumination literature. Following stressors, those with vulnerable self-beliefs are predicted to adopt performance goals that aim to avoid threats to self-worth, necessitating protective mechanisms like rumination. Both the goals themselves and rumination serve to protect self-worth but are proposed to have depressogenic consequences. This theory, combined with literature on contingent self-worth and trait rumination in depression, led to an elaborated social cognitive model whereby rumination mediates the relationship between goal orientation and depression. The current study aimed to test this model. Seventy two healthy participants participated in an experimental manipulation of goal orientation prior to a difficult anagram task and rated their sadness, anxiety, and state rumination following a stressor and during a subsequent sustained attention task. The results suggested many of the hypotheses about condition differences were not supported and this may have been due to an unsuccessful task goal manipulation. However extrinsic contingent self-worth based on other’s approval was found to moderate the effect of goal orientation on task based depressive affect and rumination. For those reporting high contingent self-worth based on other’s approval, cuing a performance goal was related to significantly higher sadness and rumination following a stressor than cuing mastery goal. Findings suggest that therapy specifically focusing on assessing extrinsic contingent self-worth and associated vulnerable self-beliefs, and encouraging the adoption of mastery goals may be therapeutically beneficial in making people less reactive to stressful life events.
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology