Self-criticism, dependency and vulnerability to failure and rejection

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Paul H. Blaney - Committee Chair


The relationship between dependency, self-criticism and increases in state depression following exposure to either rejection or failure was examined. Prior research has sought to determine whether certain individuals (dependent, self-critical) may be particularly vulnerable to a depressive episode following exposure to a specific type of negative event (rejection, failure). Various tests of specificity have been conducted to assess whether these individuals respond differentially to specific types of negative events with increases in specific types of depression (Kutcher, 1992; Zuroff & Mongrain, 1987). Most of the research in this area has shown a relationship between dependency and increases in depression following a negative event of an interpersonal nature; however, a relationship between self-criticism and depression increase following failure has rarely been supported. Using the Attitudes Toward Self Scale-Revised and the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire to measure self-criticism and dependency, respectively, 271 college students were selected. Subjects then listened to audiotaped portrayals of either rejection of a significant other or of failure to be accepted into a highly desired training program. Pre- and post measures of nonspecific, support-deficit and self-denigrating state depression were administered. Considerable support was found for the relationship between self-criticism and increases in depression following exposure to failure. The results also tended to support the relationship between dependency and depression increase following exposure to rejection. Highly self-critical individuals also showed congruence between type of event experienced (failure) and depressive response (self-denigrating depression). All individuals showed an increase in support-deficit depression following exposure to the rejection condition, while exposure to the failure condition resulted in significant increases in self-denigrating depression. These findings add to the growing support for the claim that personality styles, classes of negative events, and vulnerability to depression are related phenomena.


Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text