Depressive realism: effects of depression
severity and interpretation time

by
McKendree-Smith N, Scogin F
University of Alabama,
Tuscaloosa 35487-0348, USA.
J Clin Psychol 2000 Dec; 56(12):1601-8


ABSTRACT

This study examined the theory of depressive realism, which posits that depressed people often are more accurate in perceptions and judgments than nondepressed people. Two possible qualifications to this theory were examined: (1) severity of depression moderates the effect, and (2) length of processing time will impact the presence of bias in depressed people, that is, negative bias will develop over time. College students were presented with a bogus personality profile that actually consisted of items previously rated as neutral in desirability. Participants rated these profiles for desirability initially and then again three days later. Results indicated a significant effect of depression severity on desirability rating. Nondepressed and mildly depressed students found their profiles to be more positive than the moderately/severely depressed students, with both groups having scores in the positive range. However, those participants who were moderately/severely depressed showed a negative bias in their ratings. No support was found for the effect of different times of interpretation.
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