Objectives: This study sought to incorporate the personality style of self-criticism within an evolutionary framework to help explain its relationship to major depression. It was expected that self-critics would engage in poor social comparisons and have greater feelings of internal entrapment, which are both processes related to depression by evolutionary thinkers.
Design: A cross-sectional design was employed such that participants were first interviewed and then completed several questionnaires.
Methods: The sample consisted of 146 graduate students who had experienced at least one prior episode of major depression, which was confirmed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID). Participants were subsequently administered the Center for epidemiological studies depression scale (CESD), Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ), Social comparison rating scale (SCRS), and Entrapment scale (ES).
Results: Regression analyses revealed that self-criticism significantly predicted internal entrapment and social comparison when controlling for mood and for levels of dependency. Subsequent Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) revealed that a factor of self-reported entrapment and social comparison mediated the effect of self-criticism on the number of previous episodes of depression.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that part of the reason self-critics are vulnerable to clinical episodes of depression lies in their subjective experience of entrapment and in their negative social comparisons.