The Cognitive Triad is a cognitive model developed by Aaron Beck to describe the cause of depression. He proposed that three types of negative thoughts lead to depression: thoughts about the self, the world/environment, and the future. People suffering from depression will attribute negative and unpleasant events to their personal failings (self) and to the unfair and unforgiving world. The future is perceived to be bleak and devoid of hope with their troubles lasting forever.
The components of the triad feed and strengthen each other with negative viewpoints in one area making the other parts of the triad stronger. Attributions of events come from maladaptive beliefs about the self, the world, and the future. Cognitive therapy focuses on changing these pessimistic ways of thinking in order to alleviate bad symptoms. This could be done by pointing out the positive qualities of the depressed patient, the world, and their future.