Are depressive symptoms positively or negatively associated with the illusion of control?

Paul K. Presson1, Victor A. Benassi2
1Westminster College, United States
2University of New Hampshire, United States
Cite this article:  Presson, P., & Benassi, V. (2003). Are depressive symptoms positively or negatively associated with the illusion of control?. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 31, 483-495.

Volume 31 Issue 5 | e1263 | Published: August 2003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2003.31.5.483

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This research addressed whether depressive symptoms were positively or negatively associated with the extent to which research participants showed an illusion of control. In Study 1, 85 female college students participated in a psychokinesis (PK) task and completed a magical ideation scale. Consistent with research reported by Thalbourne and others (e.g., Thalbourne & Delin, 1994), participants who showed higher levels of depressive symptoms also showed higher illusory control scores. In Study 2, 105 participants completed a precognition task and a PK task as well as a judgment of contingency task used by Alloy and Abramson (1979) to test to the so-called "depressive realism" hypothesis. Factor analysis confirmed two factors, one on which the judgments on the Precognition and PK tasks loaded and one on which the judgment on the contingency task loaded. Results replicated the finding in Study 1 for the paranormal tasks. For the contingency task, consistent with Alloy and Abramson's depressive realism model, participants showing higher levels of depressive symptoms also showed lower illusory control scores. Results are related to research that documents a relation between various forms of magical thinking and psychopathology.
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