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Self-criticism and dependency as vulnerability factors to depression Franche, Renée-Louise


The present study investigated the interpersonal schemata of self-criticism and interpersonal dependency as cognitive vulnerability factors to depression. The study's primary hypothesis was that dependency and self-criticism schemata remain stable at remission and that they are independent of mood. Stability in these two factors was related both to their self-report at remission and to their endurance as components influencing the information processing of patients during remission. Twenty clinically depressed individuals, 20 remitted depressives, and 20 normal controls were compared on memory tasks, a modified Stroop task, the Depressive Experience Questionnaire (DEQ) and the Interpersonal Dependency Inventory (IDI). The above instruments converged to measure dependency and self-criticism. Current and remitted depressives reported significantly higher levels of self-criticism and interpersonal dependency than the normal control group, when measured by the DEQ and the IDI. Performance on the three memory tasks was more ambiguous. For the free recall task, remitted depressives recalled more self-critical traits than other traits; however, the control group also recalled more self-critical traits than dependent ones, and the current depressives did not show the predicted bias. Performance on the recognition and impression formation tasks did not support' the study's main hypothesis. For the Stroop interference scores, currently depressed individuals demonstrated a trend to have more interference on the mood-congruent cards than the normal control group. Overall, the three components of the study -- questionnaires, memory tasks and Stroop task -- elicited three different patterns of results. The DEQ and the IDI indicated the presence of self-criticism and dependency in both current and remitted depressives, and thus supported the schemata's stability and independence from mood. Performance on the memory tasks offered weak support to the proposition that remitted depressives process information according to a self-critical schema, although no evidence was obtained for the dependent schema. Results of performance on the Stroop task suggested the presence of a mood congruent attentional bias in currently depressed individuals; however, no evidence was found for a self-critical or dependent attentional bias in either groups of depressives. Two explanations are offered to interpret the conflicting findings. First, a negative mood induction may be necessary to prime the interpersonal schemata. Second, tasks that are more self-focused, such as the questionnaires, than other-focused, such as the memory and Stroop tasks, may be needed to activate the schemata.

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