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Depressive Realism - Amateur Essay

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Depressive Realism
November 3, 2021
Depressive Realism
Depressive realism is the hypothesis formulated by Lauren Alloy and Lyn
Yvonne Abramson that describes depressed individuals as having a greater grasp
of reality and making more realistic inferences than non-depressed
individuals. Due to depression being a mental illness there is an inherent
negative cognitive bias that affects the core values and world beliefs of such
individuals. Depressive realism argues not only that such worldviews and
beliefs are more grounded in reality but also that non-depressed individuals
have an inherent positive cognitive bias, or at the very least the appraisals
of such non-depressed individuals possess a positive outlook that is
unrealistic in the modern world. Such positive cognitive bias could be a
result of many different factors, but the primary theory is that those with a
positive cognitive bias have yet to experience hardships within the world that
leads them to rethink their stances and core beliefs. Scientific studies have
been held to attempt to find evidence to support the hypothesis of depressive
realism, in one particular study participants were asked to press a button and
rate the control they perceived they had over whether or not a light turned
on. Depressed individuals with a negative cognitive bias made more accurate
ratings of control than non-depressed individuals who held a positive
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cognitive bias. Another study that was conducted had participants complete a
single task and rate their own performance without any feedback, depressed
individuals made more accurate self-ratings than non-depressed individuals.
For participants were asked to complete a series of tasks, given feedback on
their performance after each task, who then self-rated their overall
performance after completing all the tasks’, depressed individuals were again
more likely to give accurate self-ratings than those who were non-depressed
individuals. This result did not change whether they were asked to self-rate
immediately after completing their tasks or after some time had elapsed,
depressed individuals were able to consistently self-rate themselves more
accurately than non-depressed individuals. The result of this study shows that
those with a negative cognitive bias have a greater grasp of reality and the
functionality of the world than those without a negative cognitive bias. This
could be due to many different factors, but the most accepted theory is that
the nature of the world is inherently cruel and wicked, with those who have a
negative outlook on life understanding this more aptly than those with a
positive outlook on life. In a functional magnetic resonance
imaging1 study of the brain, depressed patients were shown to be more accurate
in their casual attributions of positive and negative social events than non-
Also known as an fMRI this procedure measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Such a technique relies on the
fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled
Depressive Realism
depressed participants who demonstrated a positive bias. This difference as
also reflected in the differential activation of the fronto-temporal network,
higher activation for non-self-serving attributions in non-depressed
participants and for self-serving attributions in depressed patients, and
reduced coupling of the dorsomedial2 prefrontal cortex seed region and limbic3
areas when depressed patients made self-serving attributions. The results of
such a study indicate that with a stronger and fuller understanding of reality
the presence of self-serving attributes occur more frequently due to the lack
of dopamine being received, leading the individual to reach for more and more
hence being perceived as self-serving attributes. The link with severe
depression and tendencies of self-harm or suicide rises in direct correlation
to one another. Those with severe depression also tend to score higher in the
tests conducted in the above studies. We can infer that this means that with a
greater grasp and understanding of reality the more depressive an individual
becomes and vice versa. This leads to the conclusion that if an individuals
brain understands too much about reality, the world, and thus human nature, it
wishes to destroy itself. Citing more evidence in support of this many who do
take their own life attribute it to the cruelty and unfairness of reality and
In reference to something being located toward the back and near the midline of a brains anatomical structure
In reference to the limbic system of the brain which deals with the executive functioning of emotion, behavior, long-term memory, and
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the world. This is further supported by the fact that depressed individuals
have a tendency to look upon the world in a more objective light than nondepressed individuals who tend to have a subjective outlook. Those who have an
objective and depressive outlook on life are in the end more accurate in
understanding the world because cruelty and negativity is still prevalent
throughout the world despite all the advancements humans have made in the last
few centuries.
Depressive Realism
From the cumulative information gathered from the above studies there is a
strong correlation between understanding reality and depression. What this
indicates is that if their mind understands too much about reality, it wants
to destroy itself. This is further supported by the fact that the worse a case
of depression is the higher the rate of suicide is as well as the higher they
scored in such aforementioned studies. In conclusion, depression leads to a
stronger understanding of reality and subsequently the world and human nature
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All information was gathered via public resources as well as personal
statements and explanations.
“Depressive Realism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2022,
“Depressive Realism - Iresearchnet.” Psychology, 26 Jan. 2016,