Can a positive attitude towards our group make us feel less depressed?
How people feel about themselves and the social group they belong to might be one of the driving forces behind the growing problem of depression among adolescents, two Indian psychologists figured. Earlier studies already found correlations between self-esteem and depression, but these researchers wanted to dig a little deeper.
They wanted to see whether self-esteem and collective self-esteem can predict depression. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs, like “I am competent” and “I am worthy”, and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. Collective self-esteem refers to feelings and evaluations of your social group, such as a racial, ethnic, or work group.
The researchers first tested 800 people aged 17-23 from Agra city with the Beck Depression Inventory. Then they randomly selected from this sample a hundred participants with a low and a hundred participants with a high level of depression, to compare their levels of self-esteem.
The results showed the expected correlations. Self-esteem and collective self-esteem were positively associated: if you feel good about yourself, you are also more likely to feel positive about your social group or community. More interesting is the negative correlation between both forms of self-esteem and depression. When level of self-esteem increases, the level of depression significantly decreases, and vice versa.
But does that mean that depression lowers self-esteem? Or that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression? To better estimate the answer to this question the researchers did a so called multi regression analysis. They then found that self-esteem was not a significant predictor of depression. The found correlation with self-esteem in the young adults from Agra is probably better explained the other way around: depression influencing self-esteem.
Collective self-esteem, on the other hand, did significantly predict depression in this sample. It suggests that how you feel about your group indeed influences depression a little. How come? The researchers write that this is probably because a positive attitude towards the group or community results in a stronger social support from that group. This support, in turn, prevents depression.
Photo: Flickr, Spirit-Fire
Source: Shraddha Sharma and Surila Agarwala (2013). Contribution of Self-Esteem and Collective Self-Esteem in Predicting Depression Psychological Thought DOI: 10.5964/psyct.v6i1.50
self-esteem, collective self-esteem, attitude, positive, depression, correlation, depressed