Sex Differences in Depression and Maladaptive Decision-Making

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Student Presentation

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Matthew Genuchi


Decision-making difficulty is a well-established characteristic of Major Depressive Disorder. Beck (1967); Abramson, Teasdale, and Seligman (1978); and Abramson, Matalsky, & Alloy (1989) have each examined the cognitive structures of depression and all draw upon a common hypothesis that a key feature of depression is cognitive vulnerability. Cognitive vulnerability significantly impacts the onset, relapse, and reoccurrence of depression. For example, one type of vulnerability is an avoidance-based style of decision-making, which, when encountering stressful life events, may lead individuals to engage in coping strategies which worsen their depressive symptoms. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to investigate differences in depressive symptoms between women and men as well as look at sex differences in men and women’s use of maladaptive decision-making styles. Participants were university students (n = 546), 378 (69.2%) were female and 168 (30.8%) male. Standard Pearson’s correlations were used to analyze the data. The most apparent difference between men and women with regards to decision-making style was the use of Buck-passing, with women being more inclined to use this decisional style. A hypervigilant decisional style in men had the strongest correlation with atypical depression symptomology. Additionally, men are more likely to cope with depression through externalized expression.

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