Little is known about how self-schemas are formed, fluctuate, and are reinforced. In this study, we used a revised mnemic neglect paradigm to examine how self-schema fluctuates following episodic events (feedback) and its self-concordance.
Participants exhibiting various depressive symptoms (BDI-II ranging from 1 to 36; M = 11.90) underwent psychological testing, followed by bogus feedback regarding their personality, future, and behavioural traits, where they rated their state self-schemas and feedback self-concordance trial-by-trial.
Results and Conclusions
Linear mixed models showed that feedback self-concordance was determined by the interaction between self-schema and the emotional valence of the feedback, and the self-schema fluctuated with the interaction between prediction error (the difference between the emotional valence of the feedback and current self-schema) and feedback self-concordance. Cognitive reactivity, the ease of responding to negative moods, was associated with higher parameters regressed onto self-schema and self-concordance regardless of the feedback valence, indicating that it enhances the likelihood of self-schema fluctuation positively and negatively. The simulation of self-schema development shows that some individuals developed a negative self-schema even after experiencing many positive events; these parameters were characteristic of individuals with high levels of cognitive reactivity. These results have significant implications for self-schema development and depression.