Possible selves of college students experiencing depression: A shift in focus toward well-being

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Pontinen, Heidi M.
Medvene, Louis J.

This study examined the possible selves, illness representations, psychological well-being, and experiences of depression among college students (N = 223) who completed an online survey. As hypothesized, students with depression reported significantly more feared possible selves compared to students without depression. As expected, there was also a highly significant difference between the well-being of students based on their experience of depression, with students experiencing depression having significantly lower scores. Consistent with this result, there was a large and highly significant negative correlation between levels of depression and well-being, r = -.74. Also, as hypothesized, among depressed college students there was a large, highly significant correlation between both self-efficacy and outcome expectancy related to possible selves and well-being scores, controlling for level of depression. These results point to the potential of interventions related to possible selves for improving the well-being of college students. Because an unusually high percentage of participants self-reported at least a mild level of depression (43%), the study’s hypotheses were re-tested using an extreme groups analysis. The results were largely consistent with the analyses using the full data set. However, there was a statistically significant difference in the hypothesized direction between the number of feared possible selves of students with and without depression. Additionally, students with depression (compared to students without depression) more strongly endorsed the belief that depression was caused by stress and worry.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology