Investigating Prognostic Pessimism for Depression

Biomedical explanations for mental disorders - where disorders are seen as the results of genetic and biological abnormalities - are increasingly common.1 The causes that people assign to mental disorders have a wide variety of consequences, from treatment preferences,2 to social stigma,3 to prognostic pessimism4: the belief that disorders will last for a longer time without improving. All of these effects can have downstream consequences on the mental health of people with disorders.

Working with Dr. Jessica Schleider and the Lab for Scalable Mental Health, Isaac is working to better understand the beliefs adolescents with depression and their parents hold regarding depression, including its components, causes, malleability, and effective treatments. Ultimately, we hope to map how these beliefs relate to mental health outcomes, and how they can be augmented to improve these outcomes.


  1. Lebowitz, M. S., & Appelbaum, P. S. (2019). Biomedical explanations of psychopathology and their implications for attitudes and beliefs about mental disorders. Annual review of clinical psychology, 15, 555-577. ↩︎

  2. Ahn, W. K., Proctor, C. C., & Flanagan, E. H. (2009). Mental health clinicians’ beliefs about the biological, psychological, and environmental bases of mental disorders. Cognitive science, 33(2), 147-182. ↩︎

  3. Lebowitz, M. S., Rosenthal, J. E., & Ahn, W. K. (2016). Effects of biological versus psychosocial explanations on stigmatization of children with ADHD. Journal of attention disorders, 20(3), 240-250. ↩︎

  4. Lebowitz, M. S., Ahn, W. K., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2013). Fixable or fate? Perceptions of the biology of depression. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 81(3), 518. ↩︎

Isaac Ahuvia
Isaac Ahuvia
Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology