Depression, interpersonal perceptions, and rejection in students with depressed, non-depressed but disturbed, and normal roommates
Coynes interpersonal model of depression has attracted considerable empirical attention, although many of the studies are based on experimentally contrived relationships, and fail to control for the presence of psychopathology other than depression. The present study used the MMPI to select and classify 80 college students who were depressed, non-depressed but disturbed, or normal. All students selected reported that they had been living on campus with a randomly assigned roommate for at least 10 weeks. The prevalence of depressive symptoms, perceptions, and rejection responses in these roommates was assessed shortly after the initial screening. A barely significant elevation in depressive symptomatology in roommates of depressed students was subsequently shown to be attributable to a subgroup of students displaying depression in conjunction with other pathology. Rejection was suggested by a disproportionately high incidence of roommate breakups involving students with this profile. Roommates who remained with these students also differed from roommates in other conditions in their inability to accurately simulate students' earlier responses to the MMPI depression scale. The nature and/or severity of overall psychopathology, rather than depression per se, appears to be central to the interpersonal responses made by significant others.