The Role Of Personality And Life Events In Depression: A Search For Qualitatively Distinct Depressive Subtypes In Adolescents (intropunitiveness, Extropunitiveness, Dependence, Independence, Masked)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Clinical Psychology


Current depression research has suggested that meaningful depressive subtypes exist within the broader category of depression. Personality is one variable which has frequently been identified as a basis for differentiating subtypes of depression (Blatt, 1974, Beck, 1981). Developing interest in adolescent depression focuses on the similarities and differences between adolescent and adult depression and the existence of depressive subtypes in adolescent depression (Mezzich, 1979a, b, Teri, 1982). The present investigation examined in an adolescent sample the validity of two previously described, depressive subtypes based on personality style: (1) Dependent-Intropunitive and (2) Independent-Extropunitive (Watchman, 1982). In addition the relationship between particular negative life event types, interpersonal versus academic/vocational, and depressive subtypes was investigated. To assess the validity of the abovementioned subtypes, the Depressive Subtype Survey, DSS, a self-report adolescent inventory containing subscales measuring constructs critical in differentiating depressive subtypes based on personality style was constructed. Adequate scale reliabilities and preliminary support for the instrument's validity were obtained. The DSS successfully discriminated depressed from nondepressed adolescents.The subjects were 129 depressed and nondepressed adolescents, ages 14-19, recruited from clinical and nonclinical settings. Adolescents completed the Beck Depression Inventory, the Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory, the Depressive Subtype Survey, and a Brief Life Events Record. Clinician's described adolescents on a symptom rating scale. The results indicated that personality style was a critical factor in determining depressive subtype. Significant, theoretically consistent differences between personality styles were found on the DSS subscales of intropunitiveness, extropunitiveness, independence, and dependence (strong trend). Support for the validity of Watchman's (1982) depressive typology was found. Sex emerged as an important variable in determining depressive subtype with females scoring higher on Dependent-Intropunitiveness. While a general increase in negative life events was related to depression, no relationship between specific life event types and depressive subtypes was found. Some adolescents evidenced depressions similar to adults while others displayed developmentally-specific features. Support for the concept of "masked depression" emerged. Depressive response style appears to be a function of personality and situational factors. Overall, this study finds support for two depressive subtypes based on personality style previously described by Watchman (1982).


Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text