Sex differences in interpretation bias and interpersonal difficulties in adolescence and young adulthood
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Females are more likely to become depressed and experience social anxiety than are males, and this sex difference emerges during adolescence. A difference in interpretation of ambiguous social scenarios has been posited as a potential causal factor of the sex differences in mood disorders. Females are also thought to place a higher value on social relationships than are males, which may cause them to view interpersonal relationships as more difficult, further affecting their interpretations of ambiguous social events. To test these hypotheses, differences in interpretation of ambiguous events and perception of interpersonal difficulty were measured using the AIBQ in adolescents (aged 12-15) and young adults (22-25). The participants also rated the level of perceived difficulty of different interpersonal relationships using the QIDA, such as romantic, peer, family, etc. Results showed that females were more likely than males to have negative explanations come to mind for ambiguous social and nonsocial scenarios, and had more negative beliefs than males about ambiguous social scenarios. Adolescents were more negative in belief for social events than for nonsocial events, and were more negative in belief for social scenarios than were adults. All participants had more positive interpretations for nonsocial scenarios than social. No sex or age differences in positive interpretations or interpersonal difficulties were found. Future studies could track the changes as adolescents age and transition into young adulthood.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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