Depression and components of self-punitiveness: High standards, self-criticism, and overgeneralization

Charles S. Carver, Ronald J. Ganellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The tendency of depressed people to be self-punitive is commonly regarded as a single-dimensional phenomenon. The present authors suggest, however, that there are several distinct aspects of self-punitiveness and that their relationships to depression should be examined separately. To do this, a self-report measure (the Attitudes Toward Self Scale [ATSS]) was developed with separate subscales designed to assess the degree to which respondents (a) hold high standards for self-evaluation, (b) are intolerant of failure to meet standards, and (c) generalize a single failure more broadly to the self-concept. 1,083 undergraduates were administered the Beck Depression Inventory and ATSS. Regression analyses revealed that overgeneralization was a highly significant predictor of depression among both males and females, accounting for 17.5% of the variance in depression overall. Though there were other statistically significant effects, the variance that they accounted for was quite small. Discussion centers on the convergence between these results and other recent findings and on the possible implications of the data for the widely noted gender difference in rate of depression. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-337
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1983


  • high standards & overgeneralization of failure & self criticism as components of self punitiveness, depressed college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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