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 Self-discrepancy theory (SDT; Higgins, 1987) is a framework for understanding how incompatible beliefs about the self induce different types of negative.

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Presentation on theme: " Self-discrepancy theory (SDT; Higgins, 1987) is a framework for understanding how incompatible beliefs about the self induce different types of negative."— Presentation transcript:

1  Self-discrepancy theory (SDT; Higgins, 1987) is a framework for understanding how incompatible beliefs about the self induce different types of negative affect.  Discrepancies between the actual-self perception and ideal-self goals are associated with depressive symptoms.  Regulatory strength refers to how cognitively accessible self-identified goals are for each individual.  Stronger goals (those that are more accessible) are hypothesized to relate to more intense emotional responses following self-discrepancies.  Support from (1) self-reported regulatory strength, and (2) response latency measures of regulatory strength (e.g., Higgins et al., 1997).  Response latency measures do not account for potential confounding factors (e.g., typing/motor speed, processing speed, impulsive responding).  The purpose of this study was to further examine how regulatory strength moderates the association between actual:ideal discrepancies and depression.  Extending upon previous work using self-report measures, we utilized a computerized lexical decision task to measure regulatory strength.  Used a lexical decision task similar to that of Shah, Brazy, & Higgins’ (2004) task, which to our knowledge, has never been used to examine regulatory strength as it relates to self-discrepancies and their respective negative emotional outcomes.  Hypothesis  The relationship between actual:ideal discrepancies and depressive symptoms would be moderated by the accessibility (i.e., strength) of ideal- self goals, even after accounting for processing speed, actual:ought discrepancies, and anxiety symptoms.  Means, standard deviations, and bivariate correlations for variables of interest were calculated (see Table 1).  A regression analysis was conducted to examine ideal-self goal strength as a moderator of the relationship between self-discrepancies and depression (see Table 2). For the analysis, baseline (control) RTs, and actual:ought self- discrepancy, anxiety symptoms, and ought-self goal strength were entered as covariates. Correspondence concerning this poster should be directed to: Erin N. Stevens, M.A., Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL 60115,  The lexical decision task seems to be a good proxy for regulatory strength.  Findings underscore the importance of considering the role of individual difference factors (e.g., goal-strength) when examining the association between actual:ideal discrepancies and depressive symptoms.  The mean RTs for ideal-self goals were significantly less than the mean RTs for the control words; indicates that participants had faster response times to their ideographic ideal-self goals compared to control words.  Individuals’ self-identified goals – particularly those associated with the ideal-self – are more chronically activated, as they were more quickly able to identify whether their goals were words compared to other word strings.  Results demonstrated a significant interaction between actual:ideal discrepancies and ideal-self goal strength, such that discrepancies were positively related to depressive symptoms, though only for individuals with a stronger regulatory focus (i.e., faster RTs for ideal-self goals) as measured by the lexical decision task.  Bolstering previous research that suggests goal strength is a moderator of the discrepancy-depression relationship (Higgins et al., 1997).  Findings hold even after controlling for general reaction times and processing speed (as well as anxiety and ought-self constructs).  Clinical Implications:  Individuals’ goals and their strategies for pursuing these goals (e.g., self- system therapy for depression; Vieth et al., 2003) may be a particularly important clinical intervention target for a subset of individuals who present with mood disorders (e.g., Strauman et al., 2006).  Participants included undergraduate college students (N = 162)  Age range = years (M = 19.7 years, SD = 2.06; 52% female)  Ethnicity: 59% White, 20% Black/African American, 12% Hispanic/Latino(a), 6% Asian American, 2% Biracial, 3% other/unspecified  Measures  Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms: Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II; Beck et al., 1996; α =.88); Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI; Beck et al., 1988; α =.91).  Self-Discrepancies: Discrepancies between actual and ideal selves were measured using an adaptation of the Selves Questionnaire (Higgins, 1987; Stevens et al., 2013). Participants generated five ‘ideal’ (or ‘ought’) attributes and rated the degree to which they ideally would like to possess each attribute (ideal- or ought-self), and then were provided with a list of the attributes they had previously reported and asked to rate the degree to which they currently possessed each attribute (actual-self). In order to calculated self-discrepancies, the score for each actual attribute was subtracted from the corresponding ideal- or ought-self attribute.  Goal Strength: Reaction times (RTs) were calculated for the length of time (in ms) that it took the participants to identify whether a string of letters was a word or non-word; RTs were calculated separately for the (1) control words, (2) ought-self goals, and (3) ideal-self goals, with faster RTs being a proxy for more accessible goals.  Simple slopes tests:  For individuals with relatively stronger ideal-self goals (i.e., faster RTs), there was a significant positive association between actual:ideal discrepancies and depressive symptoms (β =.33, p <.01).  For individuals with relatively weaker ideal-self goals (i.e., slower RTs), there was not a significant association between actual:ideal discrepancies and depressive symptoms (β =.02, p =.87).


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