Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Ample evidence has shown discrimination in everyday life can lead to depressive symptoms (Gee, Spencer, Chen, Yip, & Takeuchi, 2007; Pascoe & Smart Richman, 2009). Given this, the present study sought to determine the extent to which the cognitive triad, a predictor of depressive symptoms proposed in Beck’s cognitive model (1967; 1987), moderates the relation between discrimination and depressive symptoms in urban youth. We hypothesized that a) discrimination is positively associated with depressive symptoms, b) there is a positive relation between the cognitive triad and depressive symptoms, and c) discrimination and the cognitive triad interact in their association with depressive symptoms, and explain unique variance in depressive symptoms above and beyond the effects of discrimination and the cognitive triad alone.
Eighty-five ninth grade students (47 male, 38 female) completed the Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS; Williams, Yu, Jackson, & Anderson, 1997), the Cognitive Triad Instrument for Children (CTI-C; Kaslow, Stark, Printz, Livingston, & Tsai, 1992), and Center for Epidemiological Studies of Depression (CES-D; Radloff, 1977). Participants identified as African American (51.8%), European American (34.1%), Mixed race (10.6%), Other (2.4%), and Native American or Alaskan Native (1.2%).
A hierarchical linear regression was conducted to examine whether the cognitive triad moderates the relation between everyday discrimination and depressive symptoms. When considered alone, everyday discrimination was significant (F[1, 83]= 29.14, p < .001) and explained 26.0% of the variance in depressive symptoms. Similarly, the main effect of the cognitive triad was found significant (F[2,82]=37.13, p < .001) and accounted for an additional 21.5% of the variance in depressive symptoms. Last, the interaction effect remained significant (F[3, 81]= 27.41, p < .05) and accounted for another 2.9% of the variance in depressive symptoms above and beyond the two main effects. Predicted values for students one standard deviation above and below the mean for each variable illustrate the moderation of the relation between discrimination and depressive symptoms by the cognitive triad. In youth experiencing high discrimination, a negative cognitive triad is associated with a stronger increase of depressive symptoms than in students with low levels of discrimination. Based on these findings, psychologists should work to reduce discrimination experienced by youth and intervene to address the cognitive triad.
Ph.D. Counseling Psychology Student
University of Louisville