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Social Problem-Solving and Depressive Symptom Vulnerability: The Importance of Real-Life Problem-Solving Performance

Anderson, Rachel J.; Goddard, Lorna; Powell, Jane H.


Dr Rachel Anderson
Reader/Programme Director Psychology PG Research (PhD, MSc by Research, MRes)

Lorna Goddard

Jane H. Powell


Previous research suggests poor social problem-solving may function as a vulnerability factor for depressive symptoms. However, the ecological validity of previous findings is questionable, with recent research using real-life performance based approaches to ascertain how solutions are implemented in the 'real world'. The current study employed a longitudinal design to examine the role of real-life problem-solving as a predictor of future depressive symptoms. Participants completed a diary of the interpersonal problems they encountered, and their attempts to solve them. They also completed traditional measures of social problem-solving (SPSI-R and MEPS task). Real-life problem-solving performance predicted depressive symptoms 3 months after the initial testing session, beyond the variance accounted for by traditional measures of social problem-solving. This suggests that the ability to hypothetically problem-solve is distinct from the ability to generate and implement problem-solving strategies in real-life, and that it is the latter which is most important in predicting depressive symptoms.


Anderson, R. J., Goddard, L., & Powell, J. H. (2011). Social Problem-Solving and Depressive Symptom Vulnerability: The Importance of Real-Life Problem-Solving Performance. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 35(1), 48-56.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2011
Online Publication Date Dec 27, 2009
Publication Date 2011-02
Print ISSN 0147-5916
Electronic ISSN 1573-2819
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 1
Pages 48-56
Keywords Social problem-solving Depression Ecological validity Diary Vulnerability unipolar depression gender-differences college-students stress mood generation appraisal inventory ability
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