Parental Representations and Support-Seeking Behaviors Related to Dependency and Self-Criticism

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Abstract

Cognitive and interpersonal models of depression were integrated by examining the links between parental representations and the interpersonal behaviors of individuals at risk for depression. Study 1 assessed the quantity and type of social support associated with Dependency and Self-Criticism. Study 2 examined the parental representations related to these personality styles, in an effort to document cognitive variables that might contribute to interpersonal behaviors. Self-critics were found to be more dysphoric over a 21-day, self-monitoring period, made fewer requests for social support, and showed lower perceptions of support. Peers did not report providing less support to self-critics, but found them less expressive and did not know them as well. Study 2 found pervasive, negative parental representations associated with Self-Criticism providing a cognitive underpinning to social distancing. Dependent participants reported higher levels of support, which was corroborated by the peer reports. Study 2 found Dependency to be related to favorable representation of parents for friendly and submissive, but not hostile, situations. The impact of cognitive representations for interpersonal functioning is highlighted, and reciprocal processes between the two are discussed.

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