The Relation Between Adolescent Depression and Interpersonal Trust
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Depression has been conceptualized as a highly interpersonal illness. In the study of social cognition, behavioral economic games (or games of social exchange) provide a novel means to examine interpersonal relations in individuals with psychological disorder. Recently, there have been several behavioral economic studies of adult depression, and the current study downwardly extends this investigative approach to adolescent depression. N = 76 age-matched adolescent girls (depressed inpatients, n = 38; healthy controls, n = 38) played a modified version of the trust game to examine the prospective relations between adolescent depression and interpersonal trust. Depressed girls were found to make significantly larger mean investments in the trust game, as compared to healthy controls. This relation between depression and excessive trust was similarly found using another measure of depression by which the total sample was divided into groups based on severity of depressive symptoms. Severely depressed girls made significantly larger mean investments in the trust game, as compared to minimally depressed girls. Linear regression analyses revealed dimensional scores from the YSR affective problems scale to be a significant predictor of trust game performance. While further replication is needed, these preliminary findings suggest that adolescent depression may be characterized by excessive trust.