Date of Award

5-2010

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Douglas W. Nangle

Second Committee Member

Cynthia A. Erdley

Third Committee Member

Sandra T. Sigmon

Abstract

This study examined whether three negative social processes often associated with depression (i.e., excessive reassurance-seeking, negative feedback-seeking, and co-rumination) would predict longitudinal increases in depressive symptoms and decreases in relationship quality in a sample of adolescent girls. A feature of the study was the consideration of "partner effects" or the extent to which one friend's behaviors, depressive symptoms, and perception of the friendship impacted the outcomes of the other friend. Improving on past studies, this investigation also featured the simultaneous examination of all three of these negative social processes, a methodology that included the identification of exclusive, reciprocated friendship dyads, and an assessment of the negative social processes occurring within the context of those friendships. From an initial sample of 255 recruited participants, 128 girls in grades 9 through 12 were matched into exclusive, reciprocated friendship dyads. The girls in the resulting 64 dyads completed questionnaires assessing demographic information and depressive symptoms. Further, participants were provided with instructions to report on their perception of the friendship quality and the extent to which they engaged in excessive reassurance-seeking, negative feedback-seeking, and co-rumination with their specified friend. At a second data collection several weeks later, participants were asked to complete the same measures to assess the changes in these constructs within the dyads over time. Hypotheses were partially supported and the results varied by reporter. For the friend with fewer depressive symptoms, negative social processes interacted to predict severity of depression over time. For both friends, negative social processes were related to subsequent friendship quality, as well as friendship stability, though the particular pattern varied according to which dyad member's report was considered. Friend-reported variables were also found to predict self-reported friendship quality and stability. Longitudinal links between friendship quality and negative social processes were not found. Additionally, evidence of a previously established depression contagion effect was not found. Findings are discussed within the framework of the interpersonal model of depression.

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