Article

The relationship of explanatory flexibility to explanatory style.

Kent State University, OH 44240, USA.
Behavior Therapy (Impact Factor: 2.43). 01/2008; 38(4):325-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.beth.2006.06.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Traditional cognitive vulnerability-stress models regarding the etiology of depression emphasize the content of the depressed individual's thoughts. One important cognitive content index, explanatory style, represents the habitual way that individuals assign causes to events that occur in their lives. A more contemporary model, however, emphasizes the cognitive process by which these attributions are made and to what extent the individual can make different attributions depending on the particular context of the event. This process is referred to as explanatory flexibility. Given that both indices of causal explanation are derived from the same assessment instrument, the Attributional Style Questionnaire, the current investigation sought to examine the extent to which the two variables can be differentiated from one another. Results indicated that explanatory style (a measure of cognitive content) and explanatory flexibility (a cognitive process measure) are empirically related, but distinct, constructs.

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    ABSTRACT: This study examined how explanatory flexibility and explanatory style, two indices derived from the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ), were related to each other and to symptoms of depression. At Time 1, seventy-three college students completed the ASQ and a self-report measure of depression, and at Time 2, ap- proximately eight weeks later, completed the depression measure once again as well as a self-report measure of negative life events. Explanatory flexibility demon- strated relative independence from explanatory style. Additionally, explanatory flexibility, but not explanatory style, interacted with negative life events to predict change in depression symptoms such that rigidity was associated with higher levels of depression in the face of negative life events. These findings add to research sug- gesting that explanatory flexibility is distinct from, but related to, explanatory style and that both constructs add to our understanding of depression.
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    ABSTRACT: Seventy-eight undergraduates, 39 with self-reported generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), completed measures of mood and explanatory flexibility (the capacity to assign causes to negative events with a balance of historical and contextual factors) prior to and directly after a musical priming challenge that consisted of listening to negatively-valenced emotional music and thinking about a personally relevant negative event. After the emotion evocation, participants also completed a measure of state emotion regulation. Despite comparable increases in negative affect, GAD analogues evidenced drops in explanatory flexibility whereas non-GAD Controls did not. Drops in explanatory flexibility among GAD analogues covaried significantly with lack of emotional clarity. Findings suggest that for individuals with GAD, emotionally evocative experiences may result in a constricted perspective when apprehending the causes for negative events. This perspective may serve to dampen arousal, but perhaps at the cost of failing to inform one’s actions with important emotional information.
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