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Cognit Ther Res. 2012 Dec 1;36(6):827-832.

Perceived Stress, Anhedonia and Illusion of Control: Evidence for Two Mediational Models.

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  • 1Harvard University, Dept. of Psychology, 33 Kirkland St., Cambridge, MA 02138.


Illusion of control (IOC) refers to the perception that one has control over an outcome, that is, in actuality, uncontrollable; low IOC has been linked to depression. Prior studies in depression have mostly assessed IOC using paradigms involving positive outcomes, suggesting that IOC might be influenced by anhedonia. Recent evidence indicates that anhedonia, in turn, is linked to stress. To clarify such links, we examined putative relationships among perceived stress, anhedonia, and IOC (as assessed by a non-contingency task) in 63 participants. Perceived stress and anhedonia, but not general depressive symptoms, were associated with reduced IOC. Moreover, anhedonia fully mediated the relationship between stress perception and IOC, and perceived stress partially mediated the relationship between IOC and anhedonia. Findings suggest that (1) IOC is integrally related to hedonic capacity, (2) reward processing deficits may promote reduced IOC, and/or (3) a low IOC may promote depression via anhedonia-related mechanisms.


Anhedonia; Depression; Illusion of Control; Reward; Stress

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