The Influence of Implicit Theories of Depression on Treatment-Relevant Attitudesedit
Implicit theories (beliefs about the malleability of self-relevant traits) of emotion are associated with various motivational and emotional responses. Less is known about implicit theories of depression. The present study examined the effects of a manipulation of implicit theories of depression on depression symptom severity, engagement in a self-help task, and treatment-relevant attitudes. Participants experiencing clinically significant levels of depression (N = 142) were randomly assigned to receive education about depression emphasizing either the malleability of depression (incremental condition) or depression as a chronic condition (entity condition). Participants subsequently completed a self-help task for depression. Symptom severity, stigma, prognostic pessimism, psychotherapy and antidepressant credibility, psychological flexibility, and time spent on the self-help task were assessed. Participants in the incremental condition endorsed a greater incremental theory of depression than did those in the entity condition. To the extent that the experimental condition was associated with the adoption of an incremental theory of depression, depression symptom severity and stigma decreased, and treatment-relevant attitudes were more favorable. The experimental condition had no effect on self-help task persistence. Presenting depression as malleable may be associated with more positive attitudes towards treatment, although the impact on actual treatment engagement warrants future investigation.