Associated features of depression subtypes based on strength and frequency of pleasant events : implications from the Staats- Heiby paradigmatic behaviorism theory

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Rose, Gordon Douglas
Depression, Mental; Behaviorism (Psychology)
thesis / dissertation description
It has been proposed that the field of psychology can be characterized by the disunity of its bodies of knowledge. This paper discussed how this has been expressed in particular in theories of depression. A more recent theory, paradigmatic behaviorism, developed to help unify the field, was then presented. An analysis derived from the theory was applied to investigate the role of pleasant events in depression, a major focus of research in the area. According to the theory, the frequency 0f pleasant events would involve aspects of the individual's environmental circumstances and sensory-motor and language-cognitive personality repertoires, while their intensity would reflect the emotional-motivational repertoire, and different subtypes of depression would be represented by the interaction of these conditions. To test this, 440 undergraduates were administered questionnaires to measure frequency and strength of pleasant events, depression level, and various personality and environmental characteristics. Results showed that one subtype would involve a high strength of pleasantness for the events but with a low frequency of occurrence (HS-LF), and another subtype with a low strength (LS) of pleasantness with either a high or low frequency, replicating previous findings by Rose and Staats (1987). It was found that the HS-LF condition showed deficits in the sensory-motor and language-cognitive repertoires, while the LS condition also showed a deficit emoti0nal-motivational repertoire, as predicted. Implications for classification and treatment were noted, and the heuristic value of paradigmatic behaviorism to guide and integrate research was discussed.