Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Michelle Byrd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marilyn Wedenoja, Ph.D.


The primary purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between parental attributions concerning adolescent depression and levels of negative expressed emotion (EE) within the home by breaking down attributional beliefs into two dimensions: the etiology of the disorder and the controllability of the symptoms. This study included 154 parents of adolescents who filled out an online survey. Participants were predominantly female and identified themselves as White/non-Hispanic. Among the teens, each gender was relatively well-represented. Mean age of respondents was 44.7, and mean age of the adolescents was 16.0. Of the entire sample, 101 were identified as the clinical group (having a teen with depression). The questionnaire included a section developed to measure specific attributions related to depression, the Children’s Depression Inventory – Parent Version (Kovacs, 2002), and the Level of Expressed Emotion Scale (Cole & Kazarian, 1988). Results showed that controllability attributions are related to measures of expressed emotion (p < .01), while beliefs about causality had mixed results. It is suggested by this study that beliefs regarding controllability and causal beliefs may be less related than previous researchers suspected, and controllability beliefs may be more salient to theories of EE.