Sadder ≠ Wiser: Depressive Realism Is Not Robust to Replication (DRO)
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Description: The theory of depressive realism holds that depressed individuals are less prone to optimistic bias, and are thus more realistic, in assessing their control or performance. Since the theory was proposed 40 years ago, many innovations have been validated for testing cognitive accuracy, including improved measures of bias in perceived control and performance. We incorporate several of those innovations in a well-powered, pre-registered study designed to identify depressive realism. Amazon MTurk workers (N = 246) and undergraduate students (N = 134) completed a classic contingency task, an overconfidence task, and measures of mental health constructs, including depression and anxiety. We measured perceived control throughout the contingency task, allowing us to compare control estimates at the trial-level to estimates assessed at task conclusion. We found no evidence that depressive symptoms relate to illusory control or to overconfidence. Our results suggest that despite its popular acceptance, depressive realism is not replicable.