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The Association of Biological and Psychological Attributions for Depression with Social Support Seeking Intentions in Individuals with Depressive Symptoms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2012

Rebecca K. Blais*
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA
Keith D. Renshaw
George Mason University, Fairfax, USA
Reprint requests to Rebecca Blais, University of Utah, Psychology Department, 380 South 1530 East Room, 502 Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA. E-mail:


Background: Research suggests that biological and psychological attributions for depression are related to professional help-seeking, but the association of these attributions with informal support seeking in social relationships is unknown. As social support is linked with recovery from depression and a lower likelihood of experiencing future episodes of depression, it is important to understand factors that influence an individual's decision to seek social support. Aims: The present study examined depressed individuals’ own attributions for their depressive symptoms (i.e. personal attributions), perceptions of a friend's attributions for these symptoms (i.e. perceived attributions), and the depressed individuals’ willingness to seek social support from that friend. Method: Eighty-six individuals experiencing at least mild depressive symptoms completed self-report measures of personal attributions, perceived attributions, and a social support seeking intentions scale. Results: Participants’ own attributions for depressive symptoms were unrelated to their willingness to seek social support. In contrast, perceived biological attributions were related to greater help-seeking intentions, whereas perceived psychological attributions were associated with lower support seeking intentions. Conclusions: These results suggest that decisions to seek social support are more influenced by perceptions of others’ beliefs about depression than one's own beliefs.

Research Article
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2012

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