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Attributional Patterns in Depression and Euthymia

Harold A. Sackeim, PhD; Andrea Zucker Wegner, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):553-560. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060043006.
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• 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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