Cognitive processes in anxiety and depression in an ethnically diverse sample

Grant Winners

  • Lourdes Suarez-Morales Ph.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Stacey McGregor, B.A. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Silviana Guerra, B.S. – Center for Psychological Studies

Dean

  • Karen Grosby, Ed.D. – Center for Psychological Studies

Abstract

Award Winners

While the high prevalence rates of anxiety and depression in youth are well known, the cognitive correlates of anxiety and depression in this population are not as clear. Further, a paucity of research to date has examined the generalizability of cognitive models of anxiety and depression in ethnic minority populations of children. As the youth population in the U.S. becomes more ethnically diverse, culturally sensitive theoretical models are needed to guide clinical practice. The proposed study will examine the cognitive processes using the information processing theoretical model (Crick & Dodge, 1994) associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms. This model posits that children process information in a series of cognitive stages and that biased or deficient processes may predispose children to anxiety and depression; and thus, should be the targets of psychological treatments. Approximately five-hundred middle school students will complete measures of anxiety and depression, automatic thoughts, social-information processing, and stress. It is expected that anxiety and depressive symptoms will be related to biased interpretations of everyday situations. In turn, it is hypothesized that biased interpretations will be related to less effective responses in the problem-solving stages. Finally, the relationship between anxiety and depressive symptoms and cognitive processes will be examined in a large Hispanic subsample to determine whether the same processes apply to this ethnic minority population. Path analysis will be utilized to evaluate these hypotheses. Overall, the results of this study will inform future adaptation of theoretically-sound and culturally-relevant interventions for anxiety and depression in youth. The findings will be presented in national conferences of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and published in peer reviewed journals of child and adolescent psychology and cultural diversity.