Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Pössel, Patric

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adelson, Jill

Committee Member

McCubbin, Laurie

Committee Member

Sheffield, Jeanie

Author's Keywords

depression; adolescents; positive cognitive triad; cognitive triad; thinking style; prevention


Depressive symptoms during adolescence have been found to be associated with negative outcomes such as decreased academic performance, absenteeism, substance abuse, and poor physical health. The positive cognitive triad has been considered to be a protective factor against adolescent depressive symptoms. The positive cognitive triad is made up of three subfactors of cognitions, specifically, positive cognitions about the self, the world, and the future. This dissertation examined the various conceptualizations of the positive cognitive triad and their relation to depressive symptoms. These conceptualizations included considering the positive cognitive triad as a single overall protective factor (additive model), as multiple possible protective factors made up of the subfactors of the positive cognitive triad (independent factor model), and as considering the most positive subfactor as the most meaningful protective factor (strongest link model). Two samples were used in order to replicate and provide evidence for the validity of findings. Two samples (n1 = 2982; n2 = 2540) of Australian adolescents completed the Positive Cognitive Triad Inventory and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate models representing the multiple conceptualizations of the positive cognitive triad and their relation to depressive symptoms. Percentage of variance explained in depressive symptoms as well as model fit statistics were examined to determine the best conceptualization of the positive cognitive triad in its protection against depressive symptoms. Evidence pointed to the higher-order additive model and independent factor model as the best fitting models to the data and explaining the most variance in depressive symptoms. In the independent factor model, only positive cognitions about the self were significantly related to depressive symptoms. These findings support the notion that the positive cognitive triad is a protective factor for depressive symptoms, and more specifically, the role of positive cognitions about the self in the protection against depressive symptoms. After future studies examining the directionality of the relation between positive cognitions about the self and depressive symptoms, mental health providers using cognitive behavioral approaches may consider examining positive cognitions as a protective factor for their clients.