Objectives: To test the hypothesis that the manic defence involves specific response styles to depression, namely distraction and indulging in dangerous activities.

Design: A correlational study was conducted with undergraduate participants assessed for hypomanic traits using Eckblad and Chapman's Hypomanic Personality Scale.

Method: Participants also completed the Beck Depression Inventory, and an expanded version of Nolen-Hoeksema's Response Styles Questionnaire.

Results: Depression was strongly associated with a ruminative response style. Hypomanic traits were associated with rumination, a distraction response style and with indulging in dangerous activities. However, as only 17% of the variance in hypomania scores was accounted for, other factors must play an important role in determining this trait.

Conclusions: Hypomania (and possibly mania) may be products of ineffective styles of coping with negative emotions.