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Standards for Socially-and Achievement-Oriented Roles in Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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People with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have elevated trait perfectionism. We tested whether they hold perfectionistic standards for specific life roles and examined the extent to which they met their own expectations for, gained satisfaction from, and expended effort in these roles.


Seventy-four women with MDD, GAD, both disorders, or no mental disorders (CTL) described their standards for a socially-and achievement-oriented roles, coded for perfectionism. Using ecological momentary assessment, participants reported the extent to which they met, how much satisfaction they gained from, and how much effort they expended in each role.


Although the clinical groups endorsed elevated trait perfectionism, they did not differ from CTLs in their role-specific standards. Compared to CTLs, the clinical groups reported meeting their standards to a lesser extent and receiving less satisfaction from both roles. The two MDD groups reported expending less effort in achievement-oriented, but not socially-oriented, roles than the other two groups.


Despite similar standards for socially- and achievement-oriented roles, people with MDD and/or GAD are less likely to meet their standards and gain satisfaction from these roles. Having MDD, independent of GAD, is associated with putting less effort into achievement-oriented roles.

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  1. Equations 1a and 1b can also be written as

    \({\text{Outcome}}\,{\text{variable}}_{{{\text{ij}}}} = \gamma 00 + \gamma_{{0{1}}} *\left( {{\text{MDDj}}} \right) + \gamma_{{0{2}}} *\left( {{\text{GADj}}} \right) + \, \gamma^{{0{3}}} *\left( {{\text{MDD}} - {\text{GADj}}} \right) + {\text{u}}_{{0{\text{j}}}} + {\text{r}}_{{{\text{ij}}}}\)

  2. We computed linear and quadratic time-of-day variables, operationalized as the number of minutes since the first prompt of the day (centered across all participants). Linear time of day was not associated with achievement-role expectations, satisfaction, or effort, or with social-role expectations or effort, but was negatively associated with social-role satisfaction, t(997) = 2.73, p < .01; people’s satisfaction in their social roles decreased across the day. Quadratic time of day was not associated with any of the six variables. We ran Models 1 and 2 for social-role satisfaction, including the two time-of-day variables at Level 1. Results were consistent with models without the two time-of-day variables.


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This research was supported by Grants from the National Institute of Mental Health [MH096385 to Katharina Kircanski, MH091831 to Renee J. Thompson, and MH059259 to Ian H. Gotlib].

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Correspondence to Renee J. Thompson.

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Thompson, R.J., Borenstein, J.B., Kircanski, K. et al. Standards for Socially-and Achievement-Oriented Roles in Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cogn Ther Res 44, 1025–1033 (2020).

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