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J Affect Disord. 1994 Dec;32(4):239-45.

The relationship of sociotropy and autonomy to symptoms, cognition and personality in depressed patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, UK.


A growing body of research suggests that the two personality characteristics of sociotropy and autonomy confer vulnerability to depression in response to interpersonal or achievement-related events. This study examined the relationships of these characteristics to severity of symptoms, measures of negative cognition, neuroticism and extraversion in a sample of 118 unipolar depressed patients. Sociotropy was found to be associated with self-reported depressive symptoms independently of anxiety level, with frequency of negative automatic thoughts, with dysfunctional attitudes and neuroticism. It was more strongly related to dysfunctional attitudes reflecting a need for social approval than to those reflecting perfectionism. Autonomy was not associated with self-reported symptoms of depression or of anxiety. It was, however, associated with low extraversion and significantly more associated with perfectionism than social approval. The results support the need for further research to examine the precise roles of a number of psychological factors in the vulnerability to interpersonal life events but also suggest limitations in the relevance of the construct of autonomy to depression.

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