The hierarchical model of social interaction anxiety and depression: the critical roles of fears of evaluation.
Do clinically depressed individuals seek favorable or unfavorable information about the self? Self-verification theory makes the counterintuitive prediction that depressed individuals solicit feedback that confirms their negative self-views. To test this prediction, participants were classified on the basis of a structured clinical interview and self-report measures into high-esteem, low self-esteem, and depressed groups. All participants were offered a choice between receiving favorable or unfavorable feedback; 82% of the depressed participants chose the unfavorable feedback, compared to 64% of the low self-esteem participants and 25% of the high self-esteem participants. Additional evidence indicated that depressed individuals also failed to exploit fully an opportunity to acquire favorable evaluations that were self-verifying. The authors discuss how seeking negative evaluations and failing to seek favorable evaluations may help maintain depression.