Perceived self-society moral discrepancies predict depression but not anxiety
Booth, Robert W.
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Discrepancies between one's own beliefs, standards and practices and the standards expected by others are associated with increased vulnerability to depression and anxiety. Perhaps the most important personal standard is morality, one's standard of acceptable behaviour. We therefore reason that perceived discrepancies between one's own moral standards and those of society predict anxious and depressed moods. We tested this hypothesis, for the first time, in a sample of 99 female Turkish students. Moral discrepancies were assessed using an adapted moral foundations scale: participants were asked how much payment they would require to perform a series of potentially immoral acts, and how much payment they thought the average person in society would require. Participants also completed standard questionnaire measures of depression and trait anxiety. Results show that perceived self-society moral discrepancies were significantly related to depression scores, but not to anxiety scores. Furthermore, only discrepancies related to the moral dimensions of respect for ingroups and avoiding harm were related to depression. We argue that perceiving a discrepancy between one's own standards of behaviour and those of society can increase vulnerability to depression, much as other kinds of self-other discrepancies can; however, the specific moral standards which predict depression may vary with culture and the characteristics of the sample.