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Prospective Relationship between Negative Affective Reactivity to Daily Stress and Depressive Symptoms

The current study was based on O'Neill, Cohen, Tolpin, and Gunthert (2004) and was designed to explore the direction of the relationship between affective reactivity to daily stress and depressive symptoms. College students (N = 93) were assessed at two time periods (T1 and T2) with questionnaires measuring their current depressive symptoms and with online daily diaries measuring their interpersonal and non-interpersonal stressors and their negative affect (NA) and positive affect (PA). The results showed that T1 NA reactivity to daily interpersonal and non-interpersonal stressors predicted T2 depressive symptoms, but that T1 depressive symptoms did not predict T2 NA reactivity, suggesting that the NA reactivity-depression relationship is unidirectional. Overall, the findings suggest that NA reactivity to daily stressors is a vulnerability factor for depression, and they highlight the value of a daily diary design in evaluating the antecedents and outcomes of psychopathology.