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Variability in lay perceptions of depression : a vignette study

Heim, S.D. and Smallwood, J.M. and Davies, J.B. (2005) Variability in lay perceptions of depression : a vignette study. Psychology and Psychotherapy, 78 (3). pp. 315-325. ISSN 1476-0835

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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.