Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Social Information-Processing (SIP) is a paradigm that helps us investigate how children respond to their social world and is a useful predictor of many forms of child maladjustment. The SIP model was originally developed to explore social-cognitive difficulties in aggressive children, but has also been used to explore information-processing styles in children with internalizing symptomology (Bell et al., 2009). Studies exploring maladaptive internalizing SIP suggest the presence of two distinct styles of processing: negative information-processing style (NIPS) and positive information-processing style (PIPS) (Bell et al., 2009). NIPS has been shown to be predictive of both depression and anxiety, but Low-PIPS (LPIPS), or the absence of PIPS, has only been linked to depression (Luebbe et al., 2010). These findings support the Tripartite Model of Anxiety and Depression (Watson and Clark, 1991), however SIP styles have not been examined in relation to externalizing symptoms. In addition, the link between SIP styles and internalizing problems have only been demonstrated using child-reported measures. While it has been shown in the literature that children are capable of giving reliable and valid reports of their own emotional states, using only child-reports does not allow for monomethod bias to be ruled out. Having parent- and teacher-reports would allow us to investigate how child-reported SIP relates to behavior more observable to others.
The current study examined the relationship between child-reported SIP and teacher- and parent-reported behavior problems and depressive symptoms. Participants were 219 youth (ages 8-13) who completed a comprehensive measure of SIP (ChEESE-Q), and had corresponding parent- and teacher-reported Children’s Depression Inventory and Child Behavior Checklist data. Analyses showed that child-reported NIPS predicted parent- and teacher-reported depressive symptoms as well as externalizing behavior problems. However, we did not find that child-reported LPIPS significantly predicted parent- or teacher-reported depressive symptoms. These findings provide further support for SIP styles predicting internalizing and externalizing problems and also highlight the limits of parent- and teacher-reports in relation to child-reported internalizing SIP styles.
Across many different contexts and problems, we rely on parents or teachers to be the first reporter in seeking help for child maladaptive behavior. This finding suggests that parents and teachers are equipped to detect NIPS, but that we may not be able to rely on parents or teachers as first reporters for children with a LPIPS. Further research should directly investigate adults’ awareness of children’s positive SIP styles.