Background: Preventing the development of depressogenic or negative cognitive styles could also prevent the development of depression, a leading public health problem worldwide. Maternal negative cognitive styles are a modifiable risk factor for the development of negative cognitive styles in offspring. However, evidence on the role of paternal negative cognitive styles is inconclusive and there have only been a few small studies, which may also have lacked statistical power. Methods: We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate the association between paternal negative cognitive styles, measured when mothers were 18 weeks pregnant, and offspring negative cognitive styles 18 years later (N = 6,123). Associations were calculated using linear regression models, before and after adjustment for confounders including maternal negative cognitive styles. We compared associations before and after controlling for depression in parents and offspring, and used multiple imputation to reduce biases that may have arisen due to missing data. Results: A two-standard deviation increase in paternal negative cognitive style was associated with a 3-point increase in offspring negative cognitive style (95% CI 1.36–4.37). This association remained after adjustment for confounders and was independent of depression in both parents and offspring. The effect size was equivalent to that of maternal negative cognitive style, and was also independent of maternal negative cognitive style. Conclusions: Our results suggest that fathers should be included in individual- and family-based interventions designed to prevent the development of depressogenic cognitive styles in adolescent offspring. This could possibly also prevent the development of depression.
- Cognitive style