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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Available from: David M Fresco
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    • "In fact, overall, their control judgments were closer to the objective contingency programmed by the experimenter. This finding was labeled " depressive realism " with the implication that the depressed recognized their lack of control because it was consistent with motivational and negative bias aspects of depression (Ackermann and DeRubeis, 1991; Haaga and Beck, 1995; Moore and Fresco, 2012). Thus, illusory control was conceived as evidence of healthy biases and optimism, serving as a protective factor for mental healthiness (Taylor and Brown, 1988). "
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    • "It is also interesting to relate the free-energy approach to the literature on Depressive Realism, a claim that depressed people are sometimes better at evaluating instrumentality than nondepressed people (Alloy and Abramson, 1979; Alloy et al.). The claim appears robust, if small: a recent meta-analysis of 75 studies indicated a small overall depressive realism effect, although both depressed and non-depressed individuals showed a substantial " optimism bias " (Moore and Fresco, 2012). Some compelling model-driven research suggests the effect may be driven by contextual processing differences, rather than depressed individuals having consistently low expectation of control (Msetfi et al., 2005). "
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