Maltreatment severity and attributional style as predictors of depressive symptoms in maltreated children
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
First Committee Member
Neena Malik - Committee Chair
Child maltreatment is a serious problem that not only affects our society from an economic perspective but also has a significant impact on the emotional functioning of the one million children and families affected by it (National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1992). Maltreated children are at increased risk for internalizing problems including anxiety and depression. In fact, estimates of the prevalence of clinical depression in samples of maltreated children have been placed as high as 18%, compared with a base rate of 2--3% in the child population as a whole (Kaufman, 1991). Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that these difficulties may well persist into adulthood with recent studies showing that adults who were maltreated as children are three times more likely to become depressed than adults who were not maltreated as children (Brown, Cohen, Johnson, & Smailes, 1999). However, despite such dramatic findings, there are few studies that attempt to explain the mechanisms underlying this link between child maltreatment and depressive symptomatology. The present study represents one of few studies in which attributional style is tested as one such mechanism. Specifically, it was hypothesized that attributional style would be significantly related to both maltreatment severity and self-reported depressive symptomatology. In addition, it was hypothesized that attributional style would mediate the relation between maltreatment severity and self-reported depressive symptomatology in younger children while attributional style would moderate the relation between maltreatment severity and self-reported depressive symptomatology in older children.Results indicated that attributional style was significantly related to self-reported depressive symptomatology in both age groups. In contrast, the relationship between maltreatment severity and self-reported depressive symptomatology was significant only among the younger children. Attributional style was not found to mediate or moderate the relation between maltreatment severity and self-reported depressive symptoms. The results of post-hoc analyses revealed that maltreatment severity was linked to the stability-instability dimension of attributional style in older children. Findings were generally consistent across various operationalizations of attributional style.
Shiloff, Nicole Hallie, "Maltreatment severity and attributional style as predictors of depressive symptoms in maltreated children" (2004). Dissertations from ProQuest. 2094.