Date of Conferral







Hannah Lerman


This dissertation concerns the relationship between the symptomatology of depression and cognition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the assumptions of Beck's negative cognition theory regarding the relationship between patients' lack of ability to reason and depression. Beck noticed that people with depression failed to consciously examine the basis upon which their negative self-defeating reality is founded. This study examined a relationship between critical thinking skills and the need for cognition (the desire to think about ambiguous information) and levels of depression and education. The participants were 75 postsecondary undergraduate and graduate students from both online and traditional universities. This study used two-way between ANOVAs. The participants completed the Zung Self-Rating Depression scale and the Need for Cognition scale, as well as the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay test. The findings showed no significant differences in scores between those with symptoms of depression and those without in terms of critical thinking skills and need for cognition. A reanalysis was performed to remove outliers in the data, which resulted in finding significant differences between education level and the need for cognition. These findings may suggest that the participants' desire to apply effort to thinking about ambiguous information or problems is related to education level. These findings might help promote positive social change by suggesting that other researchers examine the relationship between critical thinking skills and depression to add to this conversation.