Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Psychological Science

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Kelly Rohan


Rumination, Negative Life Events, Depression, Mania, College Students


Major Depression is a significant public health challenge because it affects over 6% of U.S. adults annually and has a highly recurrent course (NIMH, 2014). This study aims to examine the main and interactive effects of a cognitive vulnerability to depression (i.e., rumination) and the experience of stressful life events in potential pathways to major depression. Initially non-dysphoric college students (N = 290) completed a measure of dispositional rumination, the Response Styles Questionnaire (RSQ), at the start of the semester (Time 1). They reported on negative life events on the Life Experiences Survey (LES) at the start and end of the semester (Time 2). Mood was assessed at both time points using the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II), the Diagnostic Inventory of Depression (DID), and the Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale (ASRMS). Contrary to the hypothesis that rumination interacts with stressful life events to predict growth in depressive symptoms over time, hierarchical regressions indicated a pattern of main effects of rumination and stressful life events in predicting depressive symptoms on the BDI-II and DID at Time 2 after controlling for symptoms at Time 1, but no significant interaction between the two variables. In secondary analyses considering sex, age, ethnicity, semester, and history of major depression as potential covariates, only history of major depression diagnosis emerged as a significant covariate and only in predicting Time 2 BDI-II symptoms. An exploratory analysis of hypomania/mania symptoms at Time 2 indicated that only Time 1 ASRMS scores significantly predicted ASRMS scores at Time 2, not rumination, stressful life events, or their interaction. Limitations of this study include a short longitudinal time period, a lack of generalizability, and reliance on self-report measures.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.