Sex Roles, Vol. 54, Nos. 1/2, January 2006 (
Why do Women get Depressed and Men get Drunk?
An Examination of Attributional Style and Coping
Style in Response to Negative Life Events
Among Canadian Young Adults
Benjamin I. Goldstein
Gender differences in alcohol consumption and depressive symptoms are well known. This
study focused on the associations of gender with attributional style, coping style, and neg-
ative life events in explaining these differences. The association of gender with each of the
predictor and outcome variables was examined. One hundred eight (51 men, 57 women) un-
dergraduate university students, ages 18–21, completed validated measures of depression,
alcohol consumption, attributional style, coping style, and negative life events. Participants
reported mild-moderate levels of depressive symptoms, similar to comparable samples. In
contrast, alcohol consumption was lower than expected. Depressive symptoms were associ-
ated with negative events and rumination among both men and women. Pessimism and wine
consumption were correlated with depression among women only. Although men consumed
more alcohol than did women, a gender difference in depressive symptoms was not found.
Potential implications of these ﬁndings are discussed.
KEY WORDS: depression; alcohol; gender; attibutional style; coping.
The prevalence of depression in Canada is 5.2%
among male young adults, and 9.6% among female
young adults (Patten, 2000). Whereas boys and girls
show equivalent rates of depression, marked gender
differences appear by early adolescence (Kandel &
Davies, 1982). Similarly, as among adults (Carney,
Armeli, Tennen, Afﬂeck, & O’Neil, 2000), older
adolescent boys consume greater quantities of alco-
hol, and drink more frequently, than older girls do
(Fromme & Rivet, 1994). Young adulthood is a crit-
ical time during which the individual’s coping style
and attributional style mature, and it is during this
time that gender differences in these cognitive styles,
Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook and Women’s College
Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of
Psychiatry, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences
Centre, University of Toronto, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto,
Ontario M4N 3M5; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
as well as in depression, become manifest (Butler
& Nolen-Hoeksema, 1994; Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987,
Studies of general population samples show a
steady increase in alcohol and other substance abuse
between the ages of 12 and 18 (Johnston, O’Malley,
& Bachman, 1989). The initial experience generally
occurs during 7th or 8th grade (Johnston et al., 1989),
and the frequency of use increases over adolescence
(Kandel & Yamaguchi, 1985). Many teenagers ex-
periment, but only a small number develop problems
with alcohol (Glantz & Pickens, 1992). In terms of
gender differences, the current literature shows non-
signiﬁcant gender differences in alcohol consump-
tion among young adolescents (Wills, 1986). How-
ever, amongst older adolescents and young adults
(i.e., university-aged), men tend to drink more than
women do (Fromme & Rivet, 1994).
Explanations for these gender differences in de-
pression and alcohol use have emerged from the
2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.