Persistent High Self-Focus After Failure and Low Self-Focus After Success. The Depressive Self-Focusing Style

Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted to assess the spontaneous self-focusing tendencies of depressed and nondepressed individuals after success and failure. Based on a self-regulatory perseveration theory of depression, it was expected that depressed individuals would be especially high in self-focus after failure and low in self-focus after success. The results of Experiment 1 suggested that immediately after an outcome, both depressed and nondepressed individuals are more self-focused after failure than after success. This finding led us to hypothesize that differences between depressed and nondepressed individuals in self-focus following success and failure emerge over time. Specifically, immediately following an outcome, both types of individuals self-focus more after failure because of self-regulatory concerns. However, over time, depressed individuals persist in higher levels of self-focus after failure than after success, whereas nondepressed individuals shift to the opposite, more hedonically beneficial pattern. The results of Experiment 2 provided clear support for these hypotheses. Theoretical implications of these results were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1044
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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