Social confirmation of dysphoria: shared and private reactions to depression

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1983 Apr;44(4):798-806. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.44.4.798.


Social responses to dysphoria were investigated. Subjects conversed for 15 minutes with persons selected on the basis of the presence or absence of depressed mood. Following the conversations, mood measures were administered along with social perception questionnaires that were described as either being confidential or to be shared with the other person. Subjects who interacted with depressed persons were anxious, depressed, and hostile, and the subjects rejected them. Contrary to predictions, subjects were willing to share their negative responses with the depressed persons. The depressed persons correctly anticipated rejection and reciprocated. The authors argue that cognitive models of depression need to be integrated with a conception of the social environment as being active and responsive. Judgments of cognitive distortion cannot be made without an understanding of the feedback typically available from the social environment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Rejection, Psychology