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The Role of Aversive Appearance-Related Comparisons and Self-Discrepancy in Depression and Well-Being From a Longitudinal General Comparative-Processing Perspective.

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Morina, Nexhmedin 


Research indicates that aversive appearance-related comparisons (i.e., perceived as threatening one's own motives) are associated with depressive symptoms. However, central elements underlying the comparison process are poorly understood. Drawing on central propositions of comparison theory, we hypothesized that an increased aversive comparison frequency instigates high levels of perceived comparison discrepancy to the standard, resulting in an intensified negative affective impact. Consequently, this heightened affective impact is expected to elicit more depressive symptoms and lower psychological well-being. We additionally expected that these pathways are moderated by dispositional self-discrepancies. In a two-wave longitudinal study, participants with elevated depressive symptoms (N = 500) responded to measures of self-discrepancy, depressive symptoms, psychological well-being, and the Comparison Standards Scale for Appearance. The latter assesses aversive social, temporal, counterfactual, and criteria-based comparisons regarding their frequency, perceived discrepancy to the standard, and engendered affective impact. The affective impact after engaging in aversive appearance-related comparisons (partially) accounted for the relation between comparison discrepancy and subsequent depressive symptoms and psychological well-being. Perceived discrepancy to the aversive comparison standards was not a key variable in this process. Dispositional self-discrepancy emerged as moderator on different pathways. Clinical implications are discussed in light of central theoretical accounts from a general comparative-processing perspective.



appearance-related comparisons, comparison theory, depressive symptoms, self-discrepancy, well-being, Humans, Male, Female, Depression, Longitudinal Studies, Self Concept, Adult, Young Adult, Middle Aged, Adolescent

Journal Title

Behav Ther

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Elsevier BV