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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1991 Apr;60(4):620-9.

Examining the world of the depressed: do depressed people prefer others who are depressed?

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  • 1Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Two studies were conducted to examine the interpersonal world of the depressed person. In Study 1, depression levels and perceptions of depressed and nondepressed people and their best friend were assessed to test the hypothesis that depressed Ss have best friends who are themselves more depressed than the best friends of nondepressed Ss. The hypothesis was confirmed, suggesting that depressed persons may prefer others who also tend toward depression. To examine this possibility, in Study 2 depressed and nondepressed college students spoke with one another in either depressed-depressed, nondepressed-depressed, or nondepressed-nondepressed pairs. It was found that depressed Ss felt worse than nondepressed Ss after speaking with nondepressed targets, but not after speaking with depressed targets. There were no differences in liking or in perceived similarity between the groups. Implications for the social world of the depressed person are discussed.

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