If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Control or Defense? Depression and the Sense of Control over Good and Bad Outcomes

John Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 71-86
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137046
Page Count: 16
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Control or Defense? Depression and the Sense of Control over Good and Bad Outcomes
Preview not available

Abstract

Defense theory holds that defensive illusions guard well-being. People supposedly are least depressed if they claim responsibility for good outcomes and deny responsibility for bad ones. Control theory states that active, effective problem solving builds well-being; thus a sense of personal control and responsibility for both success and failure is associated with low levels of depression. Which theory is right? Regression analyses of the self-reports of 809 randomly selected Illinois residents show that a sense of responsibility for both successes and failures (instrumentalism) is associated with low levels of depression. There is no measurable benefit from claiming responsibility for the good things while denying responsibility for the bad (self-defense). Depression is associated with not feeling in control of good outcomes, or of bad outcomes, or of both. The sense of control reflects the reality of social and economic status. It explains part of the relationship between status and depression. We infer that defensive illusions are no substitute for genuine control.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
71
    71
  • Thumbnail: Page 
72
    72
  • Thumbnail: Page 
73
    73
  • Thumbnail: Page 
74
    74
  • Thumbnail: Page 
75
    75
  • Thumbnail: Page 
76
    76
  • Thumbnail: Page 
77
    77
  • Thumbnail: Page 
78
    78
  • Thumbnail: Page 
79
    79
  • Thumbnail: Page 
80
    80
  • Thumbnail: Page 
81
    81
  • Thumbnail: Page 
82
    82
  • Thumbnail: Page 
83
    83
  • Thumbnail: Page 
84
    84
  • Thumbnail: Page 
85
    85
  • Thumbnail: Page 
86
    86