Maladaptive Schemas and Depression

Tests of Stress Generation and Diathesis-Stress Models

Published In: Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, v. 30, no. 1, Jan. 2011, p. 75-104

Posted on on January 01, 2011

by Nicole K. Eberhart, Randy P. Auerbach, Joseph Bigda-Peyton, John R. Abela

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

There is strong evidence that life stress is associated with vulnerability to depression; however, the specific mechanism of this effect is unclear. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining both diathesis-stress and stress generation models of vulnerability to depressive symptoms in a sample of emerging adults assessed weekly over a six-week period. In support of the stress generation perspective, idiographic multilevel modeling analyses indicated that a number of different schemas (encompassing emotional deprivation, mistrust/abuse, social isolation, defectiveness, failure, and subjugation) predicted interpersonal stress generation, which in turn predicted depressive symptoms. Results indicated partial support for the diathesis-stress model, as moderation analyses revealed a trend in which dependent interpersonal stress interacted with self-sacrifice schemas in predicting depressive symptoms. While both diathesis-stress and stress generation perspectives contribute to our understanding of depression's etiology, the results provide preliminary evidence that stress generation may be a particularly important mechanism through which maladaptive schemas impact depressive symptoms.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.