Interpersonal Behavior of Depressive Individuals in a Mixed-Motive Game

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depression & power level, interpersonal behavior in Prisoner's Dilemma Game, depressed vs normal college students

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100 undergraduates were selected as Ss on the basis of their scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, a short form of the MMPI, and the Fear Survey Schedule. Three groups of Ss (depressed, nondepressed/other psychological problems, and normal) interacted with a same-sex normal person in a modified Prisoner's Dilemma procedure in which each player's relative power was manipulated. Dyads also had several opportunities to exchange communications during the game. Results indicate that when depressed Ss were in the high-power role, the interactive pattern in the Prisoner's Dilemma procedure was relatively exploitive and noncooperative. High-power depressed Ss also displayed elevation in communications of self-devaluation/sadness and helplessness. This array of behaviors elicited noncooperativeness, extrapunitiveness, and expressions of helplessness in their normal partners. Depressives in the low-power role exhibited no unique game behaviors but communicated self-devaluation and helpless messages; and in addition, they tended to blame their partner for their devalued condition—a pattern that elicited more ingratiating behaviors in their normal partners.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, v. 89, issue 3, p. 320-332