Self-focused attention and depression: Self-evaluation, affect, and life stress

Timothy W. Smith, Rick E. Ingram, David L. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent theory and research (Smith & Greenberg, 1981; Ingram & Smith, 1984) suggest an association between self-focused attention and depression. In an attempt to clarify the nature of this relationship, two studies were undertaken. Study I demonstrated that self-focused attention (i.e., private self-consciousness) was correlated with depression but was unrelated to test anxiety. Thus, self-focused attention was a correlate of depression but not emotional difficulty in general. Further, both depression and private self-consciousness were independently associated with a negative evaluation of the self. Self-focused attention was also found to be correlated with negative mood in individuals experiencing at least some symptoms of depression but not in nondepressed persons. Study II demonstrated that self-focused attention and stressful life events were independently associated with depression. Self-focused attention did not, however, moderate the relationship between stress and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-389
Number of pages9
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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