Depressed mood: The role of negative thoughts, self‐consciousness, and sex role stereotypes

Georgia Panayiotou, Myroula Papageorgiou
Published Online:
14 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 42 Issue 5

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Research typically finds that depression is twice as common among women as among men. This may relate to differences in socialization that result in different emotions, cognitions, and coping reactions. Sex‐role stereotypes, employment and marital status, and differential social pressures may also be significant in making women more vulnerable to the development of depression. Women may have less decision‐making power, face more adverse life events, and have limited access to resources, which may lead to feelings of helplessness and low self‐esteem. Low self‐esteem and negative cognitions about the self in turn may be proximal factors predictive of negative mood. Additionally, women may be more prone to ruminative self‐focus rather than active coping, a significant risk factor for depression. This study examined individual predictors of depressed mood for each sex, including coping, self‐esteem, negative thoughts, self‐consciousness (rumination), as well as social factors such as the endorsement of sex‐role stereotypes and decision‐making power in the family. Results indicated that social factors were not related to depressed mood in either sex, but were related to coping styles and self‐esteem. Depressed mood was associated with individual characteristics, such as avoidant coping styles, social anxiety for women, and ruminative self‐focus for men. Regression analysis showed that coping through denial and negative thoughts explained depressed mood, and the latter was particularly true for men. These results point to the significance of examining both individual and social factors when attempting to understand depression in men and women.

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