Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jason T. Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eusebio M. Alvaro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Bernard Weiner

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2019 Andrea L Ruybal


attribution, effort, emotion, help-giving, postpartum depression, stigma

Subject Categories

Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychology


Women with postpartum depression (PPD) deal with the negative impact of depression, as well as the burden of stigma (i.e., negative stereotypes). Guided by the attribution-emotion-action model (Weiner, 1980a), the current studies seek to assess whether emphasizing the temporary nature of PPD (i.e., stability), the uncontrollable development of the ailment (i.e., onset controllability), and whether it appears someone is making an effort to overcome PPD will indirectly result in greater social support, through anger, sympathy, and social support outcome expectations. This approach, utilizing combinations of three different attributions, along with social support outcome expectations as a mediator has not been explored in previous literature; however, data from a Pilot Study suggests it is a viable approach. In Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to read one of eight written vignettes describing a hypothetical situation in which a loved one’s PPD is temporary or permanent, onset uncontrollable or onset controllable, and where a loved one is described as exerting effort or not exerting effort to overcome her PPD. Results indicate that main effects and interactions of these three attributions are useful in reducing stigma by increasing willingness to help a loved one with PPD. Study 2 examined the effectiveness of anti-stigma video PSAs by using a more stringent test of attribution theory (i.e., examining only positive attributions rather than comparing them to negative attributions). Eight different PSA videos were used which emphasized that PPD can be temporary, that women cannot control developing PPD, and that effort is being put forth to overcome PPD. Results indicate that emphasizing the temporary nature of PPD and that effort is being expended to overcome this ailment can be a successful approach. This set of studies demonstrates the applicability of attribution theory to the PPD domain and provides insight into the stigmatization of women with PPD and offers a possible path for reducing PPD stigmatization while also expanding our understanding of attribution theory through a novel approach.