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Affective Reactivity to Daily Interpersonal Stressors as a Prospective Predictor of Depressive Symptoms

We conceptualized affective reactivity to daily interpersonal stressors as an index of interpersonal sensitivity and evaluated it as a vulnerability factor for depression. College students completed an initial measure of depression (Time 1). Then, at the end of each day for two weeks, they completed a checklist of daily stressors and measures of state affect. Two months later (Time 2), students completed the depression measure again as well as a questionnaire that assessed life events for the intervening two months. We conducted regression analyses to predict Time 1-Time 2 changes in depressive symptoms. Our major predictions were positive main effects for Time 1 affective reactivity to daily interpersonal stressors and Time 2 negative interpersonal events, and a significant effect for the reactivity × Time 2 events interaction. Significant results were obtained for the two main effects, but not for the interaction. The results suggest that affective reactivity to daily interpersonal stressors is a predictor of depressive symptoms and demonstrate the heuristic value of a daily process design to study the antecedents of psychopathology.

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