Depressed individuals, who tend to have large perceived-self/ideal-self discrepancies, have been shown to be particularly high in private self-consciousness. On the bases of this finding and of several converging theoretical perspectives, we hypothesized that depressives, unlike nondepressives, do not find self-focus more aversive after failure than after success, and thus either (a) show no differential preference for self-focusing stimuli after success versus after failure (weak hypothesis), or (b) prefer self-focusing stimuli after failure over self-focusing stimuli after success (strong hypothesis). Depressed and nondepressed college students succeeded or failed on a supposed test of verbal intelligence, and then worked on two sets of puzzles, one in the presence and one in the absence of a self-focusing stimulus (mirror). Whereas nondepressed subjects liked the mirror-associated puzzle more after success than after failure, depressed subjects did not; depressed subjects tended to like the mirror-associated puzzle more after failure than after success. Nondepressed subjects also exhibited a self-serving pattern of attributions, viewing the test as less valid and luck as more responsible for their performance after failure than after success; depressed subjects showed no such differences. In consistency with their failure to use defensive strategies, depressed subjects showed a decrease in self-esteem after failure; nondepressed subjects showed no such change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science