Judgment of Contingency and the Cognitive Functioning of Clinical Depressives

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Twenty-four psychiatric staff, 24 clinically depressed inpatients, and 24 nondepresssed schizophrenic patients at a state psychiatric facility completed five tasks under either reward or punishment conditions. Each task consisted of 30 trials of pressing or not pressing a button to make a light appear. Monetary reinforcement was contingent on light onset for the final ten trials of each task. Cash incentives for judgment of control accuracy were added for Tasks 3, 4, and 5. Cognitive functioning was evaluated on each task by measuring expectancy, judgment of control, evaluation of performance, and attribution. Mood and self- esteem were measured before and ... continued below

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v, 295 leaves: ill.

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Cobbs, David Lee August 1990.

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  • Cobbs, David Lee

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Twenty-four psychiatric staff, 24 clinically depressed inpatients, and 24 nondepresssed schizophrenic patients at a state psychiatric facility completed five tasks under either reward or punishment conditions. Each task consisted of 30 trials of pressing or not pressing a button to make a light appear. Monetary reinforcement was contingent on light onset for the final ten trials of each task. Cash incentives for judgment of control accuracy were added for Tasks 3, 4, and 5. Cognitive functioning was evaluated on each task by measuring expectancy, judgment of control, evaluation of performance, and attribution. Mood and self- esteem were measured before and after the procedure. No significant differences were observed across mood groups for expectancy of control or judgment of control accuracy. Subject groups also did not differ in the attributions they made or in how successful they judged their performances to be. They set realistic, attainable criteria for success which were consistent with relevant conditional probabilities. Subjects in reward gave themselves more credit for task performance than subjects in punishment gave themselves blame for comparable performances. Punishment subjects demonstrated more stable, external attributions than those in reward. Across tasks, subjects overestimated when actual control was low and underestimated when actual control was high. Contrary to the "depressive realism" effect described by Alloy and Abramson (1979), clinical depressives did not display more accurate judgments of control than did nondepressives. All subjects appeared to base their control estimates on reinforcement frequency rather than actual control. Subjects showed a type of illusion of control for high frequency, low control tasks. Presumably, success in turning the light on led them to assume that their actions controlled light onset. Comparison to previous subclinical studies suggests a possible curvilinear relationship between judgment of control accuracy and level of psychopathology, with mild depressives displaying relatively greater accuracy than either nondepressives or clinical depressives.

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v, 295 leaves: ill.

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  • August 1990

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  • Aug. 22, 2014, 6 p.m.

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  • May 13, 2016, 10:43 a.m.

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Cobbs, David Lee. Judgment of Contingency and the Cognitive Functioning of Clinical Depressives, dissertation, August 1990; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc331923/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .