Evidence for a depressive self-focusing style

Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


An experiment was conducted to assess the possibility that depressed persons have a unique self-focusing style in which they increase their level of self-focus after failures and decrease their level of self-focus after successes. Nondepressed and mildly depressed college students were randomly assigned to succeed or fail on a supposed test of verbal abilities or to a no-outcome control group that did not take the test. Subjects were then taken to a second room and given 10 min to work on two sets of puzzles, one of which was positioned in front of a large mirror. As in previous research on self-focus, the amount of time spent in front of the mirror was taken as a measure of aversion to self-focus. As predicted, depressed success subjects spent significantly less time in front of the mirror than did depressed control, depressed failure, or nondepressed success subjects. The time spent in front of the mirror by nondepressed subjects, however, was apparently unaffected by their performance outcomes. Implications of this depressive self-focusing style for the esteem, attributions, affect, motivation, and performance of depressed persons were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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