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Social information processing in adolescence: Gender differences and associations with depressive symptoms

Bone, Jessica; (2021) Social information processing in adolescence: Gender differences and associations with depressive symptoms. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

There is a sharp increase in depression in girls in mid-adolescence, but we do not understand why this occurs. Cognitive theories suggest that people with depression have more dysfunctional attitudes and negative biases in social information processing (perceiving, interpreting, and remembering their social environment). In my thesis, I tested the hypothesis that these negative cognitions contribute to the gender difference in depression during adolescence. I examined whether girls have more negative biases in social information processing and dysfunctional attitudes than boys, and whether biases are associated with depressive symptoms in early and mid-adolescence. I collected data from 331 young and 268 mid-adolescents (aged 11-13 and 13-15 years). In chapter 3, I tested whether learning about social evaluation differed across genders or age groups. I then developed and validated computational models of learning about social evaluation in chapter 4. In chapter 5, I tested whether recall biases were more negative in young and mid-adolescent girls and were associated with depressive symptoms. In these chapters, I found that negative biases in learning about social evaluation and recall were associated with increased depressive symptoms in young and mid-adolescents. There was no strong evidence for gender differences in social information processing. In chapter 6, I tested whether there were gender differences in different domains of dysfunctional attitudes. I found that perfectionism was associated with more severe depressive symptoms across adolescence and girls had higher perfectionism than boys in mid-adolescence. My findings suggest that social information processing is not more negatively biased in girls than boys during adolescence, although girls may have more perfectionism than boys. Negative biases in learning about social evaluation, recall of social evaluation, and perfectionism were associated with depressive symptoms from early adolescence. These negative biases may be a risk factor for depression and present a good candidate for future longitudinal studies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Social information processing in adolescence: Gender differences and associations with depressive symptoms
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118886
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