Depressive realism: A meta-analytic review

Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA.
Clinical psychology review (Impact Factor: 7.18). 05/2012; 32(6):496-509. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2012.05.004
Source: PubMed


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).

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    • "On the contrary, women with body image discordance (i.e., those with a perceived actual silhouette smaller than actual) were less likely to report high CES-D scores; this finding, however, was not statistically significant (see Table 4). The concept of " depressive realism, " which states that depressed persons lose the positive bias that allows them to see themselves in an unjustifiably positive light (Moore and Fresco 2012), suggests that depressed women would also experience less body image discordance (that is, they would not perceive their body size to be smaller than actual). This concept could explain why women with body image discordance also reported lower levels of depressive symptoms. "
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    ABSTRACT: With aging, women's bodies undergo changes that can affect body image perception, yet little is known about body image in midlife. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between body image and depressive symptoms in Caucasian and African-American midlife women from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Chicago site. Body image was measured using the Stunkard Adult Female Figure Rating Scale, and a clinically significant level of depressive symptoms was defined as Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) score of ≥16 (N = 405; N = 63 (15.6 %) with clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms). Differences between perceived actual, perceived ideal, and actual body size and responses to questions concerning weight satisfaction and attractiveness were examined using logistic regression for associations with a CES-D score of ≥16. Women with body image dissatisfaction (odds ratio (OR) = 1.91; p = 0.04) or who perceived themselves as "unattractive" (OR = 7.74; p < 0.01) had higher odds of CES-D of ≥16. We found no significant difference by race. Our results were not confounded by BMI. These results suggest that midlife women with poor body image may be more likely to have clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms. Larger prospective studies are needed to better understand this association.
    Archives of Women s Mental Health 03/2014; 17(3). DOI:10.1007/s00737-014-0416-9 · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    • "Regarding the depressive realism (Alloy and Abramson 1979; Moore and Fresco 2012) and depression→distortion (Richters 1992) hypotheses, some support for each hypothesis emerged for negative, but not positive, parenting when using independent observations as the criterion measure. For parents with higher levels of depressive symptoms, selfreport of parenting mapped linearly onto independent observations ; at lower levels of depressive symptoms, parentreported negative parenting was not congruent with observed levels of this type of parenting. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study examined the congruence of parent and adolescent reports of positive and negative parenting with observations of parent-adolescent interactions as the criterion measure. The role of parent and adolescent depressive symptoms in moderating the associations between adolescent or parent report and observations of parenting also was examined. Participants were 180 parents (88.9 % female) with a history of clinical depression and one of their 9-to-15 year old children (49.4 % female). Parents and adolescents reported on parenting skills and depressive symptoms, and parenting was independently observed subsequently in the same session. Findings indicated adolescent report of positive, but not negative, parenting was more congruent with observations than parent report. For negative parenting, depressive symptoms qualified the relation between the parent or adolescent report and independent observations. For parents, higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with more congruence with observed parenting (supporting a depressive realism hypothesis) whereas an opposite trend emerged for adolescents (providing some supporting evidence for a depression-distortion hypothesis).
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 07/2013; 42(2). DOI:10.1007/s10802-013-9777-1 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "Beck et al. 1979). However, in some instances the behavior of depressed individuals seems to be better characterized by realism relative to an objective standard or by an absence of a positivity bias relative to healthy individuals (Alloy & Ahrens, 1987; Moore & Fresco, 2012). The general reasoning that MDD may be related to a reduction, absence or reversal of positivity biases relative to mental health is motivated by considerable evidence showing that healthy individuals are characterized by a diverse array of positivity biases including illusions of superiority (Taylor & Brown, 1988; Taylor & Brown, 1994; Leary, 2007), illusions of control (Taylor & Brown, 1988; Thompson et al. 1998), positivity biases in memory (Walker et al. 2003) and also unrealistic optimism about the future (Weinstein, 1980; Taylor & Brown, 1988; Weinstein & Klein, 1995; Armor & Taylor, 2002; Puri & Robinson, 2007; Sharot, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background When challenged with information about the future, healthy participants show an optimistically biased updating pattern, taking desirable information more into account than undesirable information. However, it is unknown how patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), who express pervasive pessimistic beliefs, update their beliefs when receiving information about their future. Here we tested whether an optimistically biased information processing pattern found in healthy individuals is absent in MDD patients. Method MDD patients (n = 18; 13 medicated; eight with co-morbid anxiety disorder) and healthy controls (n = 19) estimated their personal probability of experiencing 70 adverse life events. After each estimate participants were presented with the average probability of the event occurring to a person living in the same sociocultural environment. This information could be desirable (i.e. average probability better than expected) or undesirable (i.e. average probability worse than expected). To assess how desirable versus undesirable information influenced beliefs, participants estimated their personal probability of experiencing the 70 events a second time. Results Healthy controls showed an optimistic bias in updating, that is they changed their beliefs more toward desirable versus undesirable information. Overall, this optimistic bias was absent in MDD patients. Symptom severity correlated with biased updating: more severely depressed individuals showed a more pessimistic updating pattern. Furthermore, MDD patients estimated the probability of experiencing adverse life events as higher than healthy controls. Conclusions Our findings raise the intriguing possibility that optimistically biased updating of expectations about one's personal future is associated with mental health.
    Psychological Medicine 05/2013; 44(3):1-14. DOI:10.1017/S0033291713001074 · 5.94 Impact Factor
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