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Performance evaluation in subclinical depression: It looks like I did as poorly as I expected to

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The study tested the hypothesis that subclinically depressed individuals' unduly negative performance evaluations reflect self-confirmatory processing: their performance evaluations are biased toward the confirmation of their negative success expectations. To test this hypothesis, 17 subclinically depressed and 47 nondepressed participants indicated their success expectations and their performance standards for an upcoming test of academic aptitude. After taking the test, they evaluated their test performance without explicit feedback about how well they had done. Three findings suggest that the less favorable performance evaluations of subclinically depressed participants were due to self-confirmatory processing: (a) success expectations covaried with performance evaluations, (b) depressed participants had less favorable success expectations, and (c) after statistically removing the effect of expectations on performance evaluations, depressed-nondepressed differences in performance evaluations were eliminated. There was no evidence that overly stringent standards accounted for the relatively negative performance evaluations of subclinically depressed participants.

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Morris, S.J. Performance evaluation in subclinical depression: It looks like I did as poorly as I expected to. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 19, 63–74 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02263229

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Key words

  • self-evaluation
  • depression
  • dysphoria
  • self-confirmation