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Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 589–608 | Cite as

Judgment of control and depression: The role of self-esteem threat and self-focused attention

  • Mario Mikulincer
  • Hanna Gerber
  • Matisyohu Weisenberg
Article

Abstract

This study assessed the effects of threat to self-esteem and self-focused attention (i.e., presence of a mirror) on judgment of control among students scoring high or low on depression. Subjects completed the Beck Depression Inventory and were asked to judge control for controllable and uncontrollable problems. Subjects were further divided according to (a) messages varying in the extent to which lack of control threatened self-esteem, and (b) the presence/absence of a mirror. Findings showed that nondepressives estimated more control over uncontrollable events than depressives. In addition, high-threat subjects estimated more control over uncontrollable events than low-threat subjects only under no-mirror conditions. The presence of a mirror eliminated the overestimation of control. Finally, results showed that the presence of mirror led depressives to underestimate control over controllable events. Results were discussed in terms of the motivational hypothesis of illusion of control and the role played by self-focused attention in depression.

Key words

depression judgments of control self-esteem threat self-focused attention 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario Mikulincer
    • 1
  • Hanna Gerber
    • 1
  • Matisyohu Weisenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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