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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science