Perception of self and others: A comparison of depressed and nondepressed college students
Little is known about the relationship among the three dimensions of Beck's (1967) cognitive triad in depression, negative view of the self, the world, and the future. The present study focuses on the first two by having subjects rate themselves and others. Male and female subjects were classified as depressed or nondepressed on the basis of their Beck Depression Inventory scores (Beck, 1967), giving rise to four groups: Male-Nondepressed, Female-Nondepressed, Male-Depressed, and Female-Depressed. Using a percentile scale, subjects were asked to rate themselves and the average college student of their own sex on a list of 38 variables: some skill-related, some interpersonal, and some emotional. Subjects tended to rate themselves and the average person above the 50th percentile. Since self and average ratings were positively correlated for almost all of the variables in each of the four groups, self rating data were reanalyzed by subtracting the average rating from the self rating in order to obtain an improved index of self perception. Both depressed and nondepressed subjects usually rated themselves better than average, nondepressed subjects doing so more frequently and to a greater degree than depressed subjects. Items for which all subjects evinced a self serving bias seemed to be related to the social aspects of their life circumstances. Some of the 38 variables elicited different ratings from depressed and nondepressed subjects. Others elicited ratings from nondepressed males different from those for the other three groups. A third collection of variables elicited ratings from nondepressed females different from those for the other three groups. Items from the two latter categories shed some light on depressive symptomatology for males and females respectively. The presence of the self serving bias in both depressives and nondepressives may be related to the personal, relevant nature of the items.