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Title:Self-relevant cognition in depression: An examination of problematic cognitive content and process
Author(s):Morris, Steven Jeffrey
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kanfer, Frederick H.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Psychology, Clinical
Psychology, Personality
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to elucidate the distinctive nature of cognition in depression. Using the distinction between cognitive products and cognitive structures--both comprised of content--and cognitive processes, the study sought to shed light on (a) the distinguishing cognitive content of the depressive self-concept (by demonstrating that a subjective sense of inadequacy is associated with depression), and on (b) the basis of depressives' distinctive cognitive products (by competitively testing three models which provide divergent accounts of depressives' distinctive cognitive products.) According to Beck's theory, depressive cognitive products arise because depressives' cognitive processes are characteristically negative, or self-derogating, whereas nondepressives' are characteristically unbiased. The Self-Deception Deficit Hypothesis claims, by contrast, that nondepressives' cognitive processes are characteristically self-enhancing, whereas depressives' are nonself-enhancing, or unbiased. According to the Self-Schema Model, depressives and nondepressives employ the same cognitive processes--prominently including schematic processing--differing only in the content of the schemas that guide these processes.
After completing a battery of self-report instruments, subjects took five tests. Then, after receiving contrived feedback, subjects judged the validity of the five tests, evaluated their performance, and recalled their scores.
The findings suggest that depressives differ from nondepressives with respect to their cognitive contents but not with respect to their cognitive processes--in accord with the Self-Schema Model.
As regards content, the findings suggest that depressives are relatively harsh in their self-judgments (i.e., self-appraisals of an explicitly evaluative nature). In particular, depressed subjects reported that they were plagued by a sense of inadequacy. On the other hand, the findings suggest that depressives do not differ from nondepressives in their non-evaluative (i.e., descriptive) self-assessments.
The patterns in subjects' cognitive products (validity judgments, recalled feedback scores) suggest that depressives do not engage in distinctive cognitive processes. In particular, both depressives and nondepressives appear to rely on schematic (self-verification) processing and self-enhancing processing in constructing their cognitive products.
The findings, then, support the Self-Schema Model, demonstrating that depressives and nondepressives employ the same cognitive processes, including schematically-biased processing.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Morris, Steven Jeffrey
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114352
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114352

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