Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




It has been a consistent epidemiological finding that women are more prone to develop symptoms of depression than men. The present investigation examines women's greater vulnerability to depression in terms of Beck's cognitive theory of depression. Sixty women were divided into a depressed group and a non-depressed group on the basis of criteria scores on Scale 2 of the MMPI and on the Beck Depression Inventory. The groups did not differ significantly in age, education or employment status. Each subject was administered the MMPI, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Hopelessness Scale, the Personal Attributes Questionaire (PAQ), and Levenson's Internal, Powerful Others and Chance Scale. Five primary hypotheses were examined. Results strongly supported Beck's cognitive theory of depression in that the depressed women displayed significantly more helplessness, more hopelessness, and lower self-esteem than the non-depressed group. These hypotheses were tested using the one-tailed t-tests. Furthermore, as predicted, more of the feminine sex-typed women displayed lower self-esteem. The relationship of sex-role to depression was more ambiguous. This appears to be the result of the Personal Attributes Questionaire's focus upon measuring only positive attributes of either sex. Such a focus fails to examine the effects of the possible negative aspects of sex types. The present investigation found that for women, displaying a feminine sex-type as defined by possession of positive feminine traits was not associated with higher rates of depression. An important implication is that current sex-type instruments which neglect possible negative sex-type attributes, appear to offer an incomplete assessment of sex roles which realistically are a complex blend of positive and negative traits. Theoretical and treatment implications of these findings are discussed.