According to cognitive theory, negative self-schemas are involved in the occurrence of depression. Whereas implicit depressive self-associations have been found in unipolar depression, it is unknown whether impaired associations with regard to the self are also involved in Bipolar Disorder (BD). This study investigated whether a bias in self-associations is a characteristic of bipolar disorder and whether discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-evaluations may be relevant for understanding bipolar psychopathology. Implicit and explicit self-associations were assessed in patients with BD (n=99), in patients with depressive disorder (n=1236), and healthy controls (n=387). Analyses of variance and correlation analyses were used to compare bipolar patients to controls and unipolar patients on implicit self-associations and the discrepancy between implicit and explicit self-associations. Similar to unipolar patients, patients with BD showed stronger implicit depressive self-associations than controls. Specifically for bipolar patients there was no significant correlation between implicit and explicit depressive self-associations. In a similar vein, discrepancies between implicit and explicit self-associations were relatively pronounced in symptomatic bipolar patients as compared to both healthy controls and unipolar depressed patients. Thus automatic depressive self-associations were characteristic for all mood disorders whereas a lack of concordance between implicit and explicit self-associations was specific for BD. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.