Overgeneralization as a Predictor of the Course of Depression Over Time: The Role of Negative Overgeneralization to the Self, Negative Overgeneralization Across Situations, and Overgeneral Autobiographical Memory

Filip Raes, James W. Griffith, Miet Craeynest, J. Mark G. Williams, Dirk Hermans, Tom J. Barry, Keisuke Takano, David J. Hallford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Depression is characterized by different forms of overgeneralization that are all assumed to play a causal role in the development and course of depression. Methods: We examined, in a community sample of over 625 individuals, whether these different forms of overgeneralization are correlated and whether they are prospective predictors of depression at 6-month follow-up. Results: Negative overgeneralization to the self and across situations—two types of overgeneralized thinking processes—were significantly but weakly related, but neither of them was related to overgeneral memory—a memory-based form of overgeneralization. Overgeneralization to the self and overgeneral memory both predicted depression symptoms at follow-up. Further, two and three-way interactions indicated that higher levels of overgeneralization processes interact to predict depressive symptoms. Overgeneralization to the self and overgeneral memory both independently predicted probable recurrence of a major depressive episode during the follow-up period in individuals that formerly experienced depression. Conclusions: Findings suggest that overgeneralization in depression is not a unitary construct and that different overgeneralization processes play independent and interacting roles in the course of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-613
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Cognitive distortion
  • Depression
  • Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM)
  • Overgeneralization
  • Prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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