UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The depressive self-schema : its relationship to the anxiety self-schema and to changes in depressed mood Cheung, Elsie


The self-referent encoding task (SRET) was employed to investigate the content and stability of the depressive self-schema. Two central hypotheses were proposed: the depressive self-schema is characterized by anxiety, as well as, depressive content; and certain aspects of the depressive self-schema remain stable across time and across remitted depressed mood. Study 1 ensured the appropriateness of the stimulus adjectives for the SRET. Forty-five undergraduates rated adjectives on the properties of anxiety, depression, emotional intensity, social desirability, and imagery. These adjectives formed four word conditions: anxiety-content, depression-content, negative-content, and positive-content. Multivariate analysis suggested that these four word conditions were roughly equated for word length, word frequency, and ratings of imagery, and emotional intensity, but were distinguishable with respect to their ratings of anxiety, depression, and social desirability. Study 2 employed the SRET as a potential method of documenting the relationship between anxiety and depression. Twenty-two moderately depressed, 40 mildly depressed, and 26 nondepressed undergraduates rated randomly presented sets of adjectives (described in Study 1) as to their self-descriptiveness. Both the types of self-descriptors and the rating times were recorded for this SRET. This task was followed by an intentional recall task for the adjectives, and the number of recalled words per adjective set was recorded. Multivariate analyses suggested that the nondepressed subjects showed a schematic bias in their processing of the positive-content words. Although the two depressed groups showed a bias in the processing of the depression-content words, this bias was not found in the processing of the anxiety-content words. These results were discussed in terms of the utility of the SRET for the domain of anxiety. Study 3 asked which aspects of depresssive schematic processing remain constant across time and across remitted depressed mood. Subjects from Study 2 were reassessed approximately three months after they had first completed the SRET. Among nondepressed subjects who remained nondepressed and depressed subjects who remained depressed, highly consistent schematic processing was observed across the two testing sessions. Among subjects who were depressed at the first testing session but were no longer depressed at the second testing session, these subjects no longer rated the depression-content adjectives as self-descriptive. However their decision latencies for the four groups of adjectives remained stable across the two testing sessions. Implications of these results were discussed in terms of cognitive structures as causal markers in depression.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.