Further Specifying the Cognitive Model of Depression: Situational Expectations and Global Cognitions as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms


  • Tobias Kube
  • Philipp Herzog
  • Charlotte M. Michalak
  • Julia A. Glombiewski
  • Bettina K. Doering
  • Winfried Rief


Objectives: The cognitive model of depression assumes that depressive symptoms are influenced by dysfunctional cognitions. To further specify this model, the present study aimed to examine the influence of different types of cognitions on depressive symptoms, i.e., situational expectations and global cognitions. It was hypothesized that situational expectations predict depressive symptoms beyond global cognitions.
Design: The present study examined a clinical (N = 91) and a healthy sample (N = 80) using longitudinal data with a baseline assessment and a follow-up five months later. Although the study was not designed as an interventional trial, participants from the clinical study received nonmanualized cognitive-behavioral treatment after the baseline assessment.
Methods: We examined situational expectations, intermediate beliefs, dispositional optimism, and generalized expectancies for negative mood regulation as predictors of depressive symptoms. Hypotheses were tested using multiple hierarchical linear regression analyses.
Results: Results indicate that, although there were significant correlations between the cognitive factors and depressive symptoms, in both samples neither global cognitions, nor situational expectations significantly predicted depressive symptoms at the five-month follow-up.
Conclusions: The present study could, contrary to the hypotheses, not provide evidence for a significant impact of cognitive vulnerabilities on depressive symptoms, presumably due to high drop-out rates at follow-up. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are critically discussed.