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Aversive well-being comparisons in dysphoria and the role of brooding rumination.

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Morina, Nexhmedin 


OBJECTIVES: Individuals frequently engage in comparisons on how they are doing relative to different standards. According to the general comparative-processing model, comparisons can be perceived as aversive (appraised as threatening the motives of the comparer) or appetitive (appraised as consonant with, or positively challenging the motives). Research indicates that aversive comparisons are associated with depression. We hypothesize that aversive comparisons play a significant role in the relationship between brooding rumination and depression. Drawing on central propositions of control theory that discrepancies instigate rumination, we investigated the mediating role of brooding rumination in this relationship. Reflecting the different directionality, we also examined whether well-being comparisons mediate the relationship between brooding rumination and depression. METHODS: Dysphoric participants (N = 500) were administered measures of depression and brooding rumination, and the Comparison Standards Scale for Well-being. The latter assesses aversive social, temporal, counterfactual, and criteria-based comparisons regarding their (a) frequency, (b) perceived discrepancy to the standard, and (c) engendered affective valence. RESULTS: The relationship between the frequency of aversive comparisons with depression was partially accounted for by comparison discrepancy and engendered affective valence and brooding rumination. The relationship between rumination and depression was partially mediated by sequential comparison processes. CONCLUSIONS: Longitudinal research needs to unravel the underlying directionality of the relationship between depression, brooding, and comparison. Relevant clinical implications of well-being comparison are discussed.



brooding, comparison theory, depression, well-being, Humans, Depression, Affect, Depressive Disorder, Major, Motivation

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Br J Clin Psychol

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