Self-Esteem pp 183-199 | Cite as

On the Highly Positive Thoughts of the Highly Depressed

  • Brett W. Pelham
Part of the The Plenum Series in Social / Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)


Most contemporary theories of the self-concept emphasize the self- defeating nature of low self-regard. Along these lines, most researchers would probably agree that one of the most serious drawbacks of low self-esteem is its close connection to clinical disorders such as depression. Consider the story of Ron, a typical student suffering from low self-esteem. After receiving a low score on an exam, Ron became mildly depressed. As suggested by research on the specific beliefs of people low in self-esteem (e.g., see Pelham & Swann, 1989), Ron had always harbored doubts about his abilities. Under the influence of his negative mood, these doubts were transformed into highly negative beliefs, and these negative beliefs eventually increased Ron’s emotional distress, which contributed still further to his negative beliefs (see Beck, 1967, 1976, for a relevant discussion). Consistent with work on depression and attributional style, Ron then began to make self-blaming attributions for his growing list of failures, and these self-blaming attributions further intensified his misery (e.g., see Metalsky, Seligman, Semmel, & Peterson, 1982).


Social Comparison Attributional Style Negative Belief Positive Thought Positive Belief 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett W. Pelham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUCLALos AngelesUSA

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