Self construction and categorization of personal meanings according to the character strengths: comparative study in patients with depressive disorders

Luis Ángel Saúl, M. Ángeles López-González, Fernando Rubio-Garay, Marcela Paz González-Brignardello


The aim of this study was to explore the self-definition and self-differentiation of a group of patients with depressive disorders (n = 30) compared with a community sample (n = 30). Personal meanings of these subjects, elicited by Grid Technique, were categorized according to the virtues and character strengths of Peterson and Seligman (2004) and analyzed the position that people attach to the elements "present self" and "ideal self". In addition, it was studied the self-differentiation through the analysis of several indices that assess self-esteem, perceived social isolation and perceived adequacy in the others. The main results show that people with depression have more constructs in self-control, self-regulation and emotional, personal and social intelligence categories than community sample. Furthermore, significant differences between the two groups were found in the position of "present self" in relation to "ideal self". In this sense, the clinical group elicits more discrepant constructs in Courage, Wisdom, Transcendence, Moderation, Humanity and Justice, and the nonclinical group presents more congruent constructs in all virtues least Justice. Regarding dilemmatic constructs, more of them are showed in Moderation and Courage categories in the clinical group. Finally, patients with depression show low self-esteem and they perceive themselves different with respect to their social environment. These data, taken together with the positive correlation between the "ideal self" and "others" (perceived adequacy in the others), indicate a tentative profile of isolation in the clinical sample.


constructivism; self; content analysis; personal constructs; Repertory Grid Technique; Character Strengths; depression



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