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June 1986

Attributional Patterns in Depression and Euthymia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, New York University (Drs Sackeim and Wegner), Department of Biological Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute (Dr Sackeim), and Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University (Dr Sackeim), New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):553-560. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060043006

• The aim of this research was to examine broadly how experiences of success and failure are reflected in the selfevaluations of depressed and nondepressed individuals. In a study contrasting depressed with nondepressed students and in a second study contrasting depressed patients with schizophrenic patients and normal control subjects, attributions were obtained for positive and negative outcomes in a story rating task and in a behavioral task. The major findings were that across both tasks and both studies, euthymic subjects evidenced a marked bias to evaluate control, responsibility, and outcome intensity as greater for positive than for negative events. Depressed subjects failed to evidence or manifested to a lesser extent this type of cognitive distortion. Depressed patients did evidence, however, an inverse, "self-punitive" bias, primarily in attributing greater responsibility to themselves for negative than for positive outcomes.

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