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Effect of performance feedback on depressed and nondepressed psychiatric patients McBride, Susan Kay


The present study investigated the effects of success and failure performance feedback on subjects' (a) prediction of their performance on a future task, (b) estimation of parental and stranger predictions of their performance, (c) post-task evaluation, and (d) conformity behavior. High and Low Depressed psychiatric patients, selected on the basis of the Beck Depression Inventory (DI) (Beck, 1961, 1967), were given an experimentally induced success, failure, or neutral experience on a task of time estimation. They were then asked to predict their performance on a task of matching geometric figures. The conformity situation involved subjects' estimation of line lengths, after being given an erroneous hint as to the length of each line. The only measure significantly related to depression level was the magnitude of conformity responses, on which Low Depressed patients gave a greater number of inches of error in the hinted direction than High Depressed patients. There was no difference between these two groups on the frequency of conformity responses. It was suggested that the lack of hypothesized differences between High and Low Depressed subjects may have been due to ineffectiveness of the DI in differentiating between depression levels, or due to limitations of Beck's theory in predicting the behavior of depressed patients in a nonsocial experimental situation. The lack of differences between the three experimental groups was probably due to aspects of the experimental situation which decreased the effectiveness of the performance feedback.

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