ERIC Number: ED289120
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Sep-1
Reference Count: N/A
Egotism among the Depressed: When Self-Protection Becomes Self-Handicapping.
Frankel, Arthur; Snyder, Mel L.
The reluctance of depressed people to try hard may result not from their low expectancy for success, as Learned Helplessness Theory suggests, but rather from egotistic motivation to preserve whatever self-esteem they still have. Two studies were conducted using a paradigm which permitted a direct comparison of Learned Helplessness Theory and Egotism Theory as explanations for the motivational deficit associated with the performance of depressed subjects in an achievement situation. The purported difficulty of a task was manipulated to examine whether relatively depressed persons persisted less as the task grew more difficult, as Learned Helplessness Theory must argue, or whether they persisted more, as Egotism Theory predicts. The results showed that relatively depressed college students persisted longer in their attempts to solve a puzzle when it was described beforehand as extremely difficult compared to when it was purported to be moderately difficult. Subjects also were more likely to blame their lack of success, especially in the moderate difficulty condition, on too little and too much effort, as well as on their being anxious and worried, relative to their less depressed counterparts. These findings provide evidence that depressed persons engage in egotistic behavior when their self-esteem is threatened by potential failure. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (95th, New York, NY, August 28-September 1, 1987).