Risk-taking behavior and risk appraisal in different levels of depression severity
Heavy drinking, binge drinking, smoking, unprotected sex, and gambling are prevalent in the college population. Multiple studies have been conducted finding that specific risky behaviors such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, smoking, risky sex, and gambling are associated with depression. In general these studies have not made distinctions between levels of depression severity, and so it is not clear if the associations found would exist at all levels of depression severity or if differences exist between those levels with respect to risk-taking. One hundred and twenty-five student participants were recruited from American University and took part in the current study, which used the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II) and the Domain Specific Risk-Taking scale (DOSPERT) to determine how different levels of depression severity relate to risk tendency and risk perception. Kendall tau correlations were calculated for participants' BDI-II scores vs. each of the mean DOSPERT domain scores as well as overall risk tendency and risk perception scores, and small but significant correlations were found for only two out of twelve relationships. Participants' BDI-II scores were divided based on the suggested cut-off scores for each severity level, and Kruskal Wallis tests were performed, showing that the mildly depressed individuals had significantly higher social DOSPERT RP scores than minimally depressed individuals. No other significant differences were found. These findings do not support the conclusion that risk-taking is associated with depression.