Inauthenticity as a Predictor of Depression and Negative Affect Among University Students

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Carver, Jane E.
Washburn University
Psychology Department
Issue Date
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Authenticity is a construct that while not new, is gaining momentum in the field of social psychology. Finding a potential link between authenticity and the clinical construct of depression was the goal for the current study. This study was conducted in two parts: Study 1 was designed to assess the relationship between authenticity and depression. Study 2 was designed to replicate and extend the results of Study 1 by predicting whether an emotional disclosure writing exercise related to (in)authenticity could cause a change in participants’ affect. Contrary to our hypothesis, the results indicated a significant positive relationship exists between authenticity and depression and the introduction of an emotional disclosure exercise did not significantly change the participants’ affect. Interestingly, when supplemental analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between the subscales of authenticity and depression, one of the subscales (i.e., self-alienation) significantly correlated with depression, which was consistent with our hypothesis. More research is needed to further assess the link between authenticity, depression, and other related constructs to determine how such variables could potentially assist clinicians in their practice. Authenticity is an important factor in the lives of individuals and by raising further awareness with the current study, we hope to give people insight into the mental health benefits of being themselves.