Explanatory Style and Depression

Essay by gailsturnerUniversity, Master'sA-, April 2002

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In studying the research on explanatory style and depression, I found some ideas that could help schools develop programs to reduce the "pessimistic explanatory style" in children. Scientists who have studied the effects of thoughts and feelings have discovered that these hopeless and pessimistic thoughts bring on anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression is our children's worst nightmare, they can become withdrawn, their grades can drop and they could even have thoughts of suicide. Since children spend over half the day in schools, the schools need to become aware of the physiological needs of the children along with the academic needs.

What is explanatory style? It is the automatic and natural way you explain events. Three different qualities can determine if you are optimistic or pessimistic. Permanence is the belief that bad events are long lasting for pessimistic, but optimists resist this belief and see bad events as only temporary setbacks.

Pervasiveness is the belief that failure in one area affects other areas of life also, in contrast to optimistic, which believe failure as being specific to one situation rather than over the entire life. Personalization is the belief that bad events are one's own fault rather than due to circumstances, this makes them feel hopeless, unlike the optimistic believes that failures are not their own fault but rather due to circumstances. We have to learn a new way of thinking to change our explanatory style.

We cannot go though a whole day with out some kind of set back, so we need to teach our children how to handle these setbacks. Children learn from observation, therefore, schools need to come up with a program that lets kids participate in different situations. Such as, a class that teaches teamwork and problem solving. The students could have a different...