Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 78 Issue 3 (September 2005), Pages 275-417

Variability in lay perceptions of depression: A vignette study (pages 315-325)

This paper describes a study investigating lay perceptions of depression in terms of perceived severity. Students (N=128) were presented with vignettes describing individuals with symptoms of depression based on DSM‐IV. The descriptions were varied in terms of gender, social status, and a self‐referent manner of communicating depressive symptomatology. Participants were asked to rate the degree to which vignette characters were thought to be depressed on a Likert‐type scale. Results indicate that a non‐self‐referent style of communicating depressive symptoms by female vignette characters was seen as an indication of elevated levels of depression, and these findings are discussed with reference to the literature.

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