Negative life events, coping, social support, and depression in three personality types

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Robert McMahon - Committee Chair


With the reawakening of interest in the disorders of personality as a result of the publication of DSM-III and DSM-III-R, attention has been drawn to the personality theories of Theodore Millon as a fertile area from which to draw hypotheses concerning the nature of these disorders (Millon, 1981).This study explored the relationships among three personality types derived from Millon's theory, and various measures of stress, coping, social support, and depression. The three personality types chosen for study were a interpersonally detached and intrapsychically primitive type (Detached type), a interpersonally submissive and dependent type (Dependent type), and a mixed interpersonally aggressive and exploitive and intrapsychically ego-centric type (Independent type).Detached, Dependent, and Independent personality types were expected to report different levels of depression, different levels of perceived stress, and different levels of use of two coping strategies (problem- and emotion-focused coping). The extent to which a type of coping strategy was used was expected to predict level of depression, regardless of personality type. Finally, within personality types, predictions were made regarding the relationship between stress and depression and regarding each type's ability to benefit from the direct and stress-buffering effects of social support.Predicted differences were found among personality types regarding level of depression and of use of problem-focused coping. Within personality types, results consistent with predicted patterns of stress vulnerability for Detached and Dependent types and patterns of stress resistance for Independent types were also indicated. Neither beneficial direct or stress buffering effects of social support were indicated for Dependent types, but an interesting stress by support interaction was indicated for Independent types.The discussion of these results focused on their implications for Millon's theory of personality and for future research.


Psychology, Personality

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