Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 164–172 | Cite as

Implicit and Explicit Self-Esteem in Previously and Never Depressed Individuals: Baseline Differences and Reactivity to Rumination

  • John E. Roberts
  • Andrew Porter
  • Chrystal Vergara-Lopez
Original Article


In contrast to cognitive theories that emphasize negative self-views in depression, a recent study demonstrated that previously depressed individuals have higher implicit self-esteem (SE) than never depressed controls (Franck et al. in Cogn Emot 22(8):1588–1599, 2008). The present study was designed to extend this past work by measuring both implicit and explicit SE among previously and never depressed individuals and testing whether a rumination manipulation impacts SE more strongly among individuals with past depression. Previously (n = 28) and never depressed (n = 33) participants completed rumination and distraction conditions in sessions separated by 1 week. State explicit SE and implicit SE were measured both pre- and post-manipulation, whereas explicit trait SE was measured once at baseline. Previously depressed individuals had higher implicit SE, but lower explicit trait SE, at baseline compared to never depressed controls. Never depressed individuals experienced decreases in implicit SE following rumination relative to distraction, whereas previously depressed individuals experienced decreases in implicit SE following both rumination and distraction. Our findings demonstrate that previously depressed individuals have high implicit, but low explicit trait SE, compared to never depressed persons, and further suggest that they differ in either their response to repeated administrations of measures of implicit SE or to externally prompted shifts in attentional focus.


Implicit self-esteem Explicit self-esteem Rumination Depression 



The authors would like to thank Jan De Houwer for his insightful comments on a previous version of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

John E. Roberts, Andrew Porter, and Chrystal Vergara-Lopez declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study. If any identifying information is contained in the paper the following statement is also necessary—Additional informed consent was obtained from any subjects for whom identifying information appears in this paper.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Roberts
    • 1
  • Andrew Porter
    • 1
  • Chrystal Vergara-Lopez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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