"What Do You Really Think of Me?": The Role of Feedback-Seeking on Romantic Dating Relationships Among Depression-Vulnerable Women
University of Kansas
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The deleterious consequences of depression are often couched in terms of their impact at the individual level: for example, reduced quality of life, increased risk of suicide, and health problems. Nevertheless, depression also carries a high cost with regard to its impact on interpersonal processes and close relationships. The interpersonal theory of depression and the self-verification theory have been used to describe interactional processes that can lead to, maintain, or exacerbate depressive symptoms and contribute to relationship distress. This study explored how the interpersonal behaviors indicated by the interpersonal and self-verification theories affected satisfaction and stability in the dating relationships of a sample of previously depressed and never depressed women. A sample of 65 (15 previously depressed and 50 never depressed) undergraduate women from the University of Kansas participated in the study. Participants completed a series of measures, 8 weeks apart, that assessed history and symptoms of depression, positive and negative feedback-seeking behaviors, and satisfaction with their dating relationships. In the present study, previously depressed participants did not differ from never depressed participants in their use of reassurance-seeking. However, previously depressed participants reported seeking less negative feedback than never depressed participants 8 weeks after baseline. Additionally, the amount of reassurance participants sought over the 8-week period were predictive of decreases in relationship satisfaction. The interaction between reassurance-seeking and depression history approached significance, while the three-way interaction between reassurance-seeking, negative feedback-seeking and depression history significantly predicted a decrease in relationships satisfaction over the 8-week period. Reassurance-seeking also was predictive of the romantic relationship ending for previously depressed, but not never depressed participants. Results of this study provide support for an integrated interpersonal theory and suggest that the feedback-seeking behaviors that reduce the quality of depressed people's relationships may continue to be problematic once depression remits.
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