Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

Depression and the perception of social skill in dyadic interaction

  • Ian H. Gotlib
  • Sari J. Meltzer


Increasing attention is being given to the elucidation of interpersonal processes in depression. The present study was designed to examine the accuracy of depressives' self-perceptions of their social competence. In addition, depressed subjects' perceptions of others with whom they interacted, and these others' perceptions of their depressed partners, were also assessed. Finally, the self-perceptions of nondepressed individuals following interactions with depressed subjects were examined. Depressed and nondepressed subjects were observed and rated in dyadic interactions with other nondepressed subjects, and postinteraction competence ratings of all participants were obtained from the subjects, their partners, and external observers. Analyses indicated that although the depressed subjects rated themselves as less socially competent than did nondepressed subjects, neither the ratings made by the subjects' partners nor those made by the observers discriminated between the depressed and nondepressed subjects. In addition, the depressed subjects rated their partners as lower in social competence than did the nondepressed subjects, and interestingly, the partners of the depressed subjects rated themselves as lower in social skill following the interaction than did the partners of the nondepressed subjects. Finally, the observer ratings of all participants were significantly lower than the participants' ratings of themselves. The results are discussed with respect to previous investigations in this area, and directions for future research are suggested.

Key words

depression social skill social competence social interaction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, A. T. (1967).Depression: Causes and Treatment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979).Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression.Archives of General Psychiatry, 4 561–571.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Coyne, J. C. (1976a). Depression and the response of others.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85 186–193.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Coyne, J. C. (1976b). Toward an interactional description of depression.Psychiatry, 39 28–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Coyne, J. C., & Gotlib, I. H. (1983). The role of cognition in depression: A critical appraisal.Psychological Bulletin, 94 472–505.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Coyne, J. C., Kahn, J., & Gotlib, I. H. (in press). Depression. In T. Jacob (Ed.),Family interaction and psychopathology. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  8. Forrest, M. S., & Hokanson, J. E. (1975). Depression and autonomic arousal reduction accompanying self-punitive behavior.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84 346–357.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gotlib, I. H. (1982). Self-reinforcement and depression in interpersonal interaction: The role of performance level.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91 3–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Gotlib, I. H. (1984). Depression and general psychopathology in university students.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93 19–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Gotlib, I. H., & Asarnow, R. F. (1979). Interpersonal and impersonal problem-solving skills in mildly and clinically depressed university students.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47 86–95.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Gotlib, I. H., & Robinson, L. A. (1982). Responses to depressed individuals: Discrepancies between self-report and observer-rated behavior.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91 231–240.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Howes, M. J., & Hokanson, J. (1979). Conversational and social responses to depressive interpersonal behavior.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88 625–634.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kovacs, M., & Beck, A. T. (1978). Maladaptive cognitive structures in depression.American Journal of Psychiatry, 135 525–533.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Lewinsohn, P. M., & Atwood, G. E. (1969). Depression: A clinical-research approach.Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 6 166–171.Google Scholar
  16. Lewinsohn, P. M., Mischel, W., Chaplin, W., & Barton, R., (1980). Social competence and depression: The role of illusory self-perceptions?Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89 236–246.Google Scholar
  17. Libet, J., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (1973). The concept of social skill with special reference to the behavior of depressed persons.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40 304–312.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lunghi, M. E. (1977). The stability of mood and social perception measures in a sample of depressive in-patients.British Journal of Psychiatry, 130 598–604.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. C., & Lushene, R. F. (1970).Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  20. Youngren, M. A., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (1980). The functional relation between depression and problematic interpersonal behavior.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89 333–341.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian H. Gotlib
    • 1
  • Sari J. Meltzer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Florida State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations