Depressive realism: a meta-analytic review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2012 Aug;32(6):496-509. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 May 22.


The current investigation represents the first meta-analysis of the depressive realism literature. A search of this literature revealed 75 relevant studies representing 7305 participants from across the US and Canada, as well as from England, Spain, and Israel. Results generally indicated a small overall depressive realism effect (Cohen's d=-.07). Overall, however, both dysphoric/depressed individuals (d=.14) and nondysphoric/nondepressed individuals evidenced a substantial positive bias (d=.29), with this bias being larger in nondysphoric/nondepressed individuals. Examination of potential moderator variables indicated that studies lacking an objective standard of reality (d=-.15 versus -.03, for studies possessing such a standard) and that utilize self-report measures to measure symptoms of depression (d=.16 versus -.04, for studies which utilize structured interviews) were more likely to find depressive realism effects. Methodological paradigm was also found to influence whether results consistent with depressive realism were found (d's ranged from -.09 to .14).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Psychological Theory
  • Reality Testing*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design