Early predictors of helpless thoughts and behaviors in children: Developmental precursors to depressive cognitions

David A. Cole, Dana E. Warren, Danielle H. Dallaire, Beth Lagrange, Rebekah Travis, Jeffrey A. Ciesla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Learned helplessness behavior and cognitions were assessed in 95 kindergarten-age children during a series of impossible puzzle trials followed by a solvable puzzle trial. Latent growth curve analysis revealed reliable individual differences in the trajectories of children's affect, motivation, and self-cognitions over time. Parents' reports of negative life events, harsh/negative parenting, and warm/positive parenting were associated with their children's learned helplessness behavioral trajectories and outcomes over the course of the puzzle trials. Results support speculations about the developmental origins of depressive explanatory or attributional style in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-312
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007



  • Attributional style
  • Children
  • Cognitive style
  • Depression
  • Explanatory style
  • Learned helplessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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