Author

Cory Stanton

Date Approved

1-12-2016

Date Posted

9-16-2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Thomas Waltz, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Flora Hoodin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Todd, Ph.D.

Abstract

Depression is recognized as a substantial contributor to the global burden of disease, as well as economic productivity. Behavioral activation has been shown to be an efficacious treatment for depression, drawing on the work of early behavioral theorists and research on the quantitative matching law. Recently, scholars have called for increased theoretical rigor in conceptualizing psychological health, as well as increased conceptual and methodological dialogue between basic and applied researchers. The present study examined the validity of a novel self-report measure of time allocation, an extension of the matching law. A cross-sectional sample of 204 undergraduate psychology students completed measures of behavioral and emotional health in addition to the time allocation task. The task asked participants to report their time spent engaging in meaningful activities, managing life's negatives, and sleeping. It also asked participants to subjectively rate their experience of these life areas on a 1-10 scale. Pearson correlations, multiple regression analyses, and one-way ANOVA were used to evaluate the convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity of the time allocation task. Approximately half of the expected Pearson correlations were significant. Questions related to the quality or effectiveness of allocated time had stronger relationships with conventional and behavioral measures of depression than the time questions, a finding that was not expected. Average time spent managing life's negatives, as well as the subjective quality ratings of all three areas of time, were significant in differentiating depression severity groups. The overall time allocation task demonstrated some predictive validity, but did not show incremental validity when other constructs were controlled for. Strengths and weaknesses of the project, as well as implications for clinical behavioral process research, are discussed in the conclusion.

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