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Are “actual-self versus ideal-self” discrepancies associated with depression emotions? A study with discrepancy direction manipulation

By Lisa Di Blas and Riccardo Cinco


Self-discrepancies represent a gap between people’s different selves and evoke negative emotions (Higgins, 1987). In this research project, in agreement with Higgins’ theory, we hypothesized that participants’ actual-self:ideal-self discrepancies are primarily related to dejection emotions. We conducted an experimental study where we used explicit measures. After identifying an ideal-self discrepant quality by administering self-report questionnaires in which participants rated themselves on their actual personality attributes and on their ideal qualities, two weeks later we assigned each participant a schematic self-discrepant quality and ask to describe situations in which s/he wished s/he met his/her ideal standard but s/he didn’t (positive discrepancy condition or achieving direction), or to describe a situation in which s/he met right the contrary of his/her ideal standard (negative discrepancy condition or avoidance direction). Via a priming task, we aimed at activating such ideal self-schemata, before asking participants in experimental conditions to rate current emotional states along POMS items (Spielberger, 2012).\ud We expected to observe higher mean scores on POMS Depression scale when participants were exposed to the actual:ideal priming conditions, in comparison to the control-group participants, who only rated their current emotional states on POMS. Preliminary findings cautiously suggest that discrepancies require to be assessed in a more clear and accurate way in order to relate to specific emotions, by taking into account the role of positive discrepancy condition (achieving direction) and negative discrepancy condition (avoidance direction) as well

Topics: Self discrepancy, actual self, ideal self, dejection emotions, priming effect, discrepancy direction.
Publisher: EUT
Year: 2014
OAI identifier:

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