Determination of the relationships involved in depressive realism : a comprehensive test of the phenomenon
Johnson, Natasha Nicole
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The depressive realism hypothesis suggests that depressed people have more realistic perceptions about themselves and their environment than do nondepressed controls. Although depressive realism has been evidenced consistently in some tasks, such as Alloy and Abramson’s (1979) contingency task, researchers have seldom been able to demonstrate the phenomenon with comparable tasks. The present research used a cross-lagged panel correlation design to examine the relationships involved in depressive realism, as well as to test for relationships between depression and a general pessimism tendency. In summary, this study had two major goals: (a) Determine if depressive realism was specific to depressed individuals who lack an illusion of control. This was done by comparing tasks that consistently have supported depressive realism to other tasks that consistently have not demonstrated depressive realism but have supported an alternative explanation for the depressive realism phenomenon (i.e., depressive pessimism); (b) Determine the predictive relationships involved in depressive realism. That is, determine if depression leads to realism, or if realism leads to depression. Involved in this examination was consideration of a diathesis-stress component in depression. It was hypothesized that depressive realism is specific to depressed individuals who lack an illusion of control, realism leads to depression, and negative life events influence the predictive relationships involved in depressive realism. One hundred thirty-four female undergraduates completed measures of depressive symptomatology, three measures of realism, and a negative life events questionnaire. Many of the proposed hypotheses were supported in favor of depressive pessimism versus depressive realism, and the comprehensive results discussed in terms of implications for future research and cognitive therapy.