An Experimental Investigation of Causal Explanations for Depression and Willingness to Accept Treatment
AdvisorWiner, Eric Samuel
Nadorff, Michael R.
Veilleux, Jennifer C.
The present study was aimed at experimentally investigating effects of causal explanations for depression on treatment-seeking behavior and beliefs. Participants at a large Southern university (N = 139; 78% female; average age 19.77) received bogus screening results indicating high depression risk, then viewed an explanation of depression etiology (fixed biological vs. malleable) before receiving a treatment referral (antidepressant vs. psychotherapy). Participants accepted the cover story at face value, but some expressed doubts about the screening task’s ability to properly assess their individual depression. Within the skeptics, those given a fixed biological explanation for depression were relatively unwilling to accept either treatment, but those given a malleable explanation were much more willing to accept psychotherapy. Importantly, differences in skepticism were not due to levels of actual depressive symptoms. The present findings indicate that information about the malleability of depression may have a protective effect for persons who otherwise would not accept treatment.