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Hopelessness in young people: A twin study

Walsh, Eileen; (2004) Hopelessness in young people: A twin study. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Background: Suicide ranks among the leading causes of deaths in young people. The central role of hopelessness in the development of suicidal ideation has been supported by empirical research. Research on youth hopelessness has focused mainly on clinical populations, where suicidality has already been identified. Aetiological influences and correlates of hopelessness are at present poorly understood. This study investigated hopelessness in a community sample of adolescent twin and sibling pairs, in order to elucidate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences. Method: Twin and sibling pairs (aged 15-23) and their primary caregiver provided ratings of depressive symptoms and externalising behaviour problems, associated cognitions (hopelessness, attributional style) and environmental stressors (life events, social adversity), by mailed self-report and parent-report booklets. Phenotypic and behavioural genetic analyses were undertaken. Results: Individual differences in hopelessness showed no evidence of a genetic contribution, instead showing substantial non-shared environmental influence and some shared environmental influence. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that (i) attributional style did not moderate the relationship between dependent negative life events and hopelessness, and (ii) a depressogenic attributional style and aggressive behaviour problems contributed uniquely to hopelessness, over-and-above the effects of social adversity, parental depression symptoms and prior youth depression symptoms. Conclusions: The present study represents an initial examination of the genetic and environmental contributions to variance in hopelessness. Individual-specific environmental influence was the most important contributor to hopeless cognitions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Hopelessness in young people: A twin study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Health and environmental sciences; Suicide
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099370
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