Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Laura E. Knouse


The purpose of this study was to test the specific predictions of two theories of depression and social functioning. One, the Social Navigation Hypothesis, is an adaptationist approach that predicts that depression functions to increase an individual’s ability to analyze and solve problems in their social system. The individual engages in behaviors such as feedback seeking in order to identify potential problems and develop solutions. In contrast, Interpersonal Theory predicts that depression is related to aversive social behaviors that can lead to rejection. Adult American participants (n=155) were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. They completed an online survey that took approximately half an hour, and answered questions relating to depressive symptoms, social rejection, social problem-solving, feedback seeking, and social functioning. Depressive symptoms were negatively related to social problem-solving skills, and Excessive Reassurance Seeking was a significant mediator of the positive relationship between depression and social rejection. Negative Feedback Seeking was not a significant mediator of the relationship. Furthermore, rumination was not a mediator of the relationship between depression and social problem-solving. Most participants retrospectively indicated that social functioning was easier for them when they were not depressed. From the current study, there was no compelling evidence that depression functions as an adaptation for social functioning. Although the Social Navigation Hypothesis was not supported by the results of this study, other adaptationist theories of depression remain plausible. Future directions in this area are discussed.