Robert Glover, Jordan LaBouff, Laura Rickard, Mollie Ruben
Youth with elevated depressive symptoms tend to engage in self-focusing behaviors, such as rumination and conversational self-focus. Past adult research also suggests that these self-focusing behaviors relate to depressive symptoms and may further be related to behavioral, implicit self-referent word use. Specifically, adults with higher depressive symptoms typically use more self-referent pronouns (e.g., ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘my’). The current adolescent study (N = 186, M = 15.68 years) utilized Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker et al., 2015) software to test whether depressive symptoms, rumination, and conversational self-focus related to self-referent pronoun use during an observational task. Results indicated that higher levels of depressive symptoms and rumination were linked with more self-referent pronoun use, but these associations were only marginally significant. In contrast to expectations, self- and friend- reported conversational self-focus was not associated with increased self- referent pronoun use. Implications and future directions for research are discussed.
Petersen, Olivia F., "Self-Referent Pronouns, Self-Focus, and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence" (2022). Honors College. 720.