Cognitive Responses to Failure and Success Relate Uniquely to Bipolar Depression Versus Mania

Lori R. Eisner, Sheri L. Johnson, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


This project examined cognitive responses to failure and success and their association with depression and mania within bipolar disorder. Many cognitive variables that are associated with unipolar depression have been found to be involved in bipolar disorder, more specifically bipolar depression. This research was the first to examine tendencies to hold high standards, engage in self-criticism, and generalize from failure to an overall sense of self-worth. In Study 1, undergraduates were screened for risk of mood disorders and completed structured diagnostic interviews. History of bipolar spectrum disorders and history of depression had separate associations with negative generalization. The association of generalization with bipolar spectrum disorders was accounted for by current depressive symptoms. For Study 2, the authors developed a measure of the tendency to engage in positive generalization following success experiences. In a sample of 276 undergraduates, this measure related uniquely to risk for mania. Results of these 2 studies suggest that responses to failure are associated with a history of depression, whereas responses to success are associated with a risk for mania. Implications for future research and clinical work are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-163
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • bipolar disorder
  • cognition
  • failure
  • mania
  • success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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