Unemployment and depressive affect: A motivational and attributional analysis

N. T. Feather, P. R. Davenport

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    128 Citations (Scopus)


    Hypothesized on the basis of expectancy/valence theory that the negative affect that follows failure to obtain employment will be stronger among those individuals who are more strongly motivated to seek employment than among those who are less motivated. This hypothesis was tested by administering a questionnaire to 212 unemployed youth (mean age 19.76 yrs). Consistent with the hypothesis, results show that Ss who indicated in their ratings that they were highly motivated to get a job also provided higher ratings of depressive affect. Those Ss with higher levels of depressive affect were less likely to blame themselves for their unemployment and more likely to blame external difficulties, such as the current economic situation. They also provided higher ratings of the valence or perceived attractiveness of work itself. Their retrospective ratings concerning how confident they were of getting a job on leaving school and how much they needed and tried for a job also tended to be higher than those of the less depressed Ss. Results are discussed in relation to the expectancy/valence approach, A. T. Beck's (1967, 1976, 1979) theory of depression, helplessness theory of depression, and recent discussions of cognitive-affect linkages that employ attribution concepts. (47 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)422-436
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1981


    • attribution, unemployed youth of mean age 19.76 yrs
    • depressive affect &
    • motivation &


    Dive into the research topics of 'Unemployment and depressive affect: A motivational and attributional analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this