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The Dynamics of Life Stressors and Depressive Symptoms in Early Adolescence: A Test of Six Theoretical Models


  • This research was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH43084 and Carnegie Corporation Grant B4850, awarded to Edward Seidman, J. Lawrence Aber, and LaRue Allen. We thank the children and schools whose cooperation made this study possible, as well as Patrick Shrout for his comments on an early draft of this manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Margaret Clements, Department of Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, 246 Greene Street, Floor 4R, New York, NY 10003. Electronic mail may be sent to


Structural equation modeling was used to compare 6 competing theoretically based psychosocial models of the longitudinal association between life stressors and depressive symptoms in a sample of early adolescents (N= 907; 40% Hispanic, 32% Black, and 19% White; mean age at Time 1 = 11.4 years). Only two models fit the data, both of which included paths modeling the effect of depressive symptoms on stressors recall: The mood-congruent cognitive bias model included only depressive symptoms to life stressors paths (DS→S), whereas the fully transactional model included paths representing both the DS→S and stressors to depressive symptoms (S→DS) effects. Social causation models and the stress generation model did not fit the data. Findings demonstrate the importance of accounting for mood-congruent cognitive bias in stressors–depressive symptoms investigations.

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