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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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61. Differential Effects of Stress and Depression on Perceptions of Self and Other Interpersonal Behavior

Reciprocal associations between depression and stress are well-established at the daily and cross-sectional levels. Similarly, depression has been linked to interpersonal dysfunction both empirically and in clinical theory. There is a dearth of research, however, examining the interrelatedness of depression, the experience of stress, interpersonal situations, and their momentary relationship. Further, little is known about how depression and stress may differentially impact perceptions of self and the other’s behavior in the interpersonal situation. The current exploratory study assessed these complex associations using ambulatory assessment data from a relatively large sample of undergraduates (n = 396) who provided data on their stress and interpersonal behaviors up to six times per day for seven days (mean responses provided = 22.14). In line with well-established literature, greater trait-like depression was associated with greater average momentary experience of stress across situations. Greater depression was also associated with greater average submissive behavior, but had no relationship with perceived other dominance or submissiveness. That is, those with greater depression tended to rate their own behavior as more submissive across situations, on average, but did not show differences in how they perceived others from those with less depression. Depression had no association with either self or other warmth. At the momentary level, individuals tended to rate themselves and perceive others as more cold when they were under stress. On the other hand, high stress situations tended to be associated with viewing the other as more dominant, but had no influence on ratings of dominant behavior. Finally, depression influenced the momentary association between stress and dominant behavior but had no effect the momentary association between stress and perceived other dominance or warmth. Neither self nor other warmth’s association with momentary stress were impacted by trait-level depression. Results provide insight into how depression impacts the perception of self and other interpersonal behavior, and how stress is implicated in these differences.

William Woods
University of Pittsburgh

Zara Khan
University of Pittsburgh

Aidan Wright
University of Pittsburgh


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