A severe test of interpersonal theory of depression among criminal defendants

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Thomas E. Joiner, Jr.
David Lane Brown
Alan R. Felthous
Ernest P. Barratt
Laurie A. Brown
Cite this article:  Joiner, Jr., T., Lane Brown, D., Felthous, A., Barratt, E., & Brown, L. (1998). A severe test of interpersonal theory of depression among criminal defendants. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 26(1), 23-28.


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We tested Coyne’s (1976) interpersonal theory of depression using a highly specialized psychiatric sample (76 criminal defendants referred for psychiatric evaluation). We assessed whether mood-disordered participants scored lower on an index of social contact than nondepressed participants. Consistent with interpersonal theory, depressed participants obtained lower scores on the social contact measure than nondepressed participants – to our knowledge, the first results to support the diagnostic specificity component of Coyne’s theory among a clinical sample. Number of comorbid diagnoses was not significantly related to social contact. It appears that Coyne’s theory possesses explanatory power, even when subjected to a relatively severe empirical test.
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