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The associations are explored between personality vulnerability and the use of defense mechanisms in the prediction of depression. A nonclinical community sample of 187 respondents and their same-sex best friends reported on participants' personality vulnerability factors (Self-criticism, Dependency and Efficacy), defense mechanisms (Mature, Immature and Emotion-avoiding), and depression (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale: CES-D; Radloff, 1977). It was found that Mature defenses were associated only with Efficacy. Extensive use of Immature and Emotion-avoiding defenses was associated with vulnerability to depression. Furthermore, Immature defenses interacted with personality vulnerabilities. Specifically, highly self-critical participants who reported low levels of Immature defense were less depressed than were participants high on both Self-criticism and Immature defense. High Immature defense scores mediated the effect of Dependency on depression. Finally, more severe vulnerability was found when targets both rated themselves and were rated by their best friends as higher on Dependency and/or on Emotion-avoiding defenses. The implications of these findings for the study of the role of defense mechanisms in personality configurations and their susceptibility to depression, as well as for the use of multisource assessment strategies in the study of personality, are discussed. Finally, the practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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