Self-discrepancies in clinical depression and social phobia: cognitive structures that underlie emotional disorders?
Previous research indicates that self-discrepancies are cognitive structures that can induce emotional discomfort. The present study compared clinically depressed and social phobic subjects (plus controls) to determine whether different self-discrepancies were associated with the two disorders. In Part 1, it was shown that the depressives possessed the greatest discrepancy between their actual and ideal/own self-states, whereas the social phobics possessed the greatest discrepancy between their actual and ought/other self-states. In a later, ostensibly unrelated study, subjects responded verbally to questions about other people while their mood changes, skin conductance responses, and verbalizations were recorded. The questions included attributes from the subject's ideal and ought self-states that were mismatches with attributes from his or her actual self, as well as mismatch attributes from other subjects. Priming with self-referential mismatches induced momentary syndromes of dejection or agitation (depending on the type of mismatch). The depressives and social phobics showed the greatest increases in dejection and agitation, respectively, according to their dominant self-discrepancy. The results suggest that specific cognitive structures may underlie clinical depression and anxiety.
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