We hypothesized that depressed individuals are generally viewed as dissimilar and that this perceived dissimilarity contributes to negative reactions to the depressed. In addition, we hypothesized that if perceived similarity affects liking of depressed individuals, then nondepressed subjects should prefer nondepressed targets, but depressed subjects should not share this preference. To test these hypotheses, depressed and nondepressed subjects received information about two targets, both either depressed or nondepressed, one attitudinally dissimilar and one attitudinally similar. They were then asked to fill out an attraction measure and an interest in meeting measure for each target. The results clearly supported the primary hypotheses, demonstrating that nondepressed subjects preferred nondepressed targets and perceived them as more similar than depressed targets, and that this preference for nondepressed targets is not shared by depressed subjects. Tests of supplementary hypotheses also confirmed that depressed subjects perceive their best friends as being more depressed and more dissimilar than do nondepressed subjects. The implications of these findings for the social world of the depressed were discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science