“Thinking styles are a really important factor in risk for depression,” says the study’s lead author Gerald Haeffel, associate professor of clinical psychology at Notre Dame University, “How one thinks about life stress and negative moods is one of the best predictors that we have of future depression.”
Haeffel and his colleagues recognized that starting life in a college dorm — with students transitioning from the familiarity of high school and family and venturing into a completely new social setting — would serve as an ideal real-world laboratory for studying how social connections and thinking styles of some students can influence others, and how these interactions can affect depression.
“For many freshmen, going to college is a seminal life transition,” he says. “They are moving away from home for the first time, and their social context is turned on its head. An important feature of our design was that students were randomly assigned to roommates. This means that students were not able to actively choose someone to live with. [They] had to live with a stranger who might have a completely different style of thinking.” //@gabrielcatalano