Toward an integration of Beck's cognitive theory and Bowlby's attachment theory : self-schema and adult attachment classification in relation to depressive symptoms
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This investigation examined relationships among depressive self-schema content, attachment classification, and depressive symptoms. Self-schema was based on Beck’s cognitive theory of depression. Depressive cognitive patterns are presumed to form through early family interactions, and some family variables have been identified as risk factors for depression, but the specific pathways and early family interactions leading to depressive selfschema have not been documented. Attachment theory, defined by Bowlby, is distinct from, yet highly compatible with, Beck’s theory of depression, including the cognitive concept of an internal working model. Although the specific internal working models associated with attachment classifications may be related to specific depressogenic cognitive styles, empirical viii investigation of the link between attachment status and cognitive selfschema is sparse. Participants included 52 females and 44 males from a community sample, age 21 to 35. Each participant completed the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and self-report questionnaires about depressive symptoms (CES-D). Researchers applied verbal transcript coding on the AAIs to measure depressive self-schema content, including unlovable and helpless schemas. Attachment status included secure, preoccupied, dismissing, and unresolved/disorganized classifications. ANCOVAs, MANOVAs, and structural equation models were used to examine the relationships among self-schema, attachment status, and depressive symptoms. Results indicated that patterns of depressive self-schema content did not vary according to attachment status. Greater numbers of depressive symptoms were not linked with either attachment status or depressive selfschema content. However, the participants in this investigation had low levels of depressive symptoms, and the depressive symptoms were measured two years after the AAIs were administered. This aspect of the methodology became an important consideration in interpretation of the findings. However, it appears possible to measure depressive self-schemas using verbal transcript coding on the AAI. This study supports further investigation into links between cognitive self-schemas and attachment status to better understand risk and psychopathology.