Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Kimberly Becker

Second Reader

Dr. Samuel McQuillin


A key characteristic of depression is the presence of cognitive biases (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This study added to the growing literature examining absolutist thinking as a potential cognitive bias associated with depression. We used data from a survey conducted at the University of South Carolina Columbia campus which included 116 students to compare the use of absolutist words in participants’ writing with their depressive symptomatology. We further compared the difference in the use of absolutist words in participants’ responses about success versus their responses about failure. Results revealed that there was not a significant relationship between BDI scores (M=8.55, SD=8.12) and Combined Prompts Absolutist Index (M=1.37, SD=0.95), r(114)=-0.026, p=0.390, one-tailed. Results revealed that there was a significant difference in absolutist word use in responses about success between the BDI comparison group (M=1.79, SD=1.01) and elevated BDI group (M=0.8, SD=0.74), t(24)=2.799; p=0.05, one-tailed. We discussed the implications of these findings and suggested areas of focus for future studies.

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