Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bardwell, Rebecca

Second Advisor

Miller, Judith

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The study is an exploratory, descriptive, comparative study of the experience of women and depression at various stages of family and career development. To fully understand the female psychology of depression, the interrelationships of bio-psycho-social-behavioral and cognitive aspects of depression need to be carefully examined. The results were interpreted in the context of Beck's cognitive theory of depression, in which dysfunctional or unrealistic cognitions are associated with depression. Depression is linked to certain learned cognitive and personality styles. This study was an attempt to examine vulnerability to depression within the context of a woman's experience with role changes. The study seeks to respond to the research question: Are there differences in depression, dysfunctional attitudes, and life satisfaction among college seniors, women five years post-college and women ten years post-college, among women who are married or unmarried, and among women who have children or who do not have children? Subjects for the study were recruited by means of a mailed questionnaire. Random samples of college seniors, and alumni five years and ten years post-college were asked to respond to the following three scales: (1) the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depressed Mood Scale, which is a measure of depressive symptomatology; (2) the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale, which is a measure of cognitive distortions related to depression, and; (3) the Satisfaction with Life Scale, which is a cognitive-judgmental measure of life satisfaction. The data obtained were analyzed using Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA). Results of the MANOVAs revealed that women five years post-college reported significantly less depressive symptomatology than college seniors or women ten years post-college. College seniors reported significantly lower levels of life satisfaction when compared to women five and ten years post-college. Married women reported higher levels of life satisfaction than single women, and women with children reported higher levels of life satisfaction that women without children. There is an interaction effect of depression on presence of children by year in which the bachelor's degree was obtained.



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