Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carolyn Cutrona

Second Advisor

William F. Panak


This study examined social information processing as a function of level of depression, anxiety, aggression and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Multiple informants were used to identify symptoms of depression, anxiety, aggression and ADHD in 141 fifth grade children in an Iowa middle school. 91 of these students were randomly selected to be interviewed with an instrument consisting of six vignettes depicting social situations relevant to this age group. Four stages of social information processing were studied: (a) interpretation of cues, (b) goal clarification (i.e., goal generation and evaluation), (c) response generation and (d) response evaluation. The role of affect was also studied within the social information processing model. Students generated goals and responses within seven categories: (a) aggressive, (b) assertive, (c) withdrawn, (d) purely affective, (e) getting more information, (f) forcing the behavior of others and (g) other goals and responses. Self reported symptoms of depression predicted a tendency to interpret social cues with a depressogenic attributional style and a bias toward attributing hostile intent within the social situations in the vignettes. Self reported depression also predicted generation of aggressive goals. Self reported anxiety also predicted a depressogenic attributional style and a hostile intent bias. Unlike the depressed students, anxious students reported more feelings of being sad and afraid. Teacher reported ADHD predicted endorsing revenge as a good goal. Peer reported aggression predicted evaluation of aggressive responses as easy. Implications for possible intervention are discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Timi Dee Friederichs Jordison



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

113 pages