Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Doris Redfield, Edward Sachs, Fred Stickle

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Research suggests that the population of undergraduate college students may be especially prone to depression. While the prevalence of depression within the general population ranges from 3 to 9 percent (Boyd & Weissman, 1981), it has been shown that between 15 and 46 percent of undergraduate college students suffer the symptoms of mild to severe depression (Beck & Young, 1978; Oliver & Burkham, 1979). Although depression is prevalent among college students, there are no known instruments yielding indices of depression specific to the college population. In fact, depression measures frequently employed in college settings seldom recognize the unique features of depression among college students (e.g., academic anxiety, scholastic difficulties).

The purpose of this study was to provide validity evidence for the Student Experience Inventory (SEI), which was specifically designed to assess depression among college students. Validation efforts consisted of: (a) cross validating the internal consistency results yielded by Kirkland and Redfield (1985) and (b) demonstrating the convergent and discriminant properties of the SEI.

The SEI, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Psychological Distress Inventory (PDI) were administered to 153 Introduction to Psychology students. Coefficient alpha for the SEI total scale was .90. Coefficient alphas for each of the seven hypothesized subscales ranged from .41 to .72. Stepwise multiple regression, using SEI scores as the criterion and BDI and PDI scores as the predictors, demonstrated that the best predictor model consisted only of the BDI total score. All Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients reflecting pairwise relationships between variables proved statistically significant (p<.01) and ranged from .23 to .61. The correlation of SEI and BDI scores yielded a coefficient of .61. A principle components factor analysis of SEI items produced eight factors, which cumulatively explained 62 percent of the total variance.

The results of this study suggest that the SEI may prove a useful tool in the measurement of depression in college students. If the SEI is to be used to discriminate between depressed and nondepressed college students, future research should include investigation of the SEI's ability to detect change in differing populations.


Health Psychology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences