Hollar, Siegel (2020) Self-distancing as a path to help-seeking for people with depression Social science & medicine (1982) 245() 112700


Three studies explored whether self-distancing, a method where the self is treated as an other, can impact help-seeking among those with depression. Self-distancing was expected to reduce the negative biases associated with depression by minimizing self-relevance through taking the perspective of an objective other. We hypothesized that when thinking about a past experience of help-seeking, a selfdistancing prompt would cause increased help-seeking intentions and more favorable help-seeking outcome expectations. The influence of selfdistancing on the self-stigma of help-seeking was also explored. Participants were randomly assigned to write (Studies 1 and 3) or watch a video (Study 2) where they were prompted to think about helpseeking from their own perspective or an objective other's perspective. Studies 2 and 3 were pre-registered on the Open Science Framework. In Study 1, self-distancing increased help-seeking intentions but did not influence help-seeking expectations or self-stigma. The a priori hypotheses were not supported in Study 2 or 3. However, exploratory analyses of Study 3 revealed an interaction between condition and level of depressive symptomatology indicating that the distancing condition weakened the relationship between higher levels of depressive symptomatology and lower help-seeking intentions, and between higher levels of depressive symptomatology and higher self-stigma. Additionally, analyses of written responses indicated participants in the distancing condition were significantly less likely to write responses void of positive content. Although a priori hypotheses were not supported, further research is warranted as results indicate the potential for using self-distancing approaches to increasing help-seeking among some people with depressive symptomatology. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.