The value of an implicit self-associative measure specific to core beliefs of depression

L.H.J.M. Lemmens, A. Roefs, A. Arntz, H.C. van Teeseling, F. Peeters, M.J.H. Huibers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and objectives The present study examined differences in explicit and implicit measures of self-esteem between depressed patients and healthy controls using an indirect measurement procedure especially adapted to measure self-esteem aspects of core beliefs of depression. Furthermore, we examined whether our implicit and explicit self-associative measures were associated with each other and with depressive symptoms, and investigated the effect of a discrepancy between the implicit and explicit measure on depression. Methods Participants were 87 depressed patients and 30 healthy controls. The Self-Liking and Self-Competence Scale was administered as a measure of explicit self-esteem. A depression-specific variant of the Single Category Implicit Association Test served as a measure of implicit self-esteem. Results Patients showed significantly lower levels of explicit self-esteem as compared to healthy controls. In spite of our adaptations, no differences were found on the implicit measure. The implicit measure of self-esteem was neither related to the explicit measure nor to depressive symptoms. Furthermore, although both the explicit measure of self-esteem and the difference score of the explicit and implicit measure were related to symptoms of depression, the relation between the explicit measure and depression was found to be significantly stronger. Limitations Results should be interpreted with caution because it is not clear yet to what extent these implicit measures really reflect self-esteem. Conclusions This study suggests that only the explicit measure of self-esteem - and not the implicit - is related to depression. Future research using well-designed measurement procedures for obtaining implicit and explicit measures could contribute to a better insight in the nature of these constructs. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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