Differences in male and female depression: investigation of a social interactional model

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Findings of higher incidence of depression among females have spurred research examining differences in the etiology and maintenance of male and female depression. A variety of differences have been identified including behavioral, cognitive, and environmental responses. Recently, increasing attention has been directed toward the importance of social interactional factors in depression. However, this research has been contradictory and inconclusive. The purposes of the current investigation were to further explore social interactional factors using face-to-face interactions between depressed and nondepressed individuals and to explore the applicability of a social interactional model to observed differences in male and female depression. Depressed and nondepressed subjects were assigned to interact with same or opposite sex partners. The twenty minute interactions were videotaped and scored by a behavioral coding system. Subjects completed questionnaires concerning perceptions of their partner and the interaction. Results indicated that depressed and nondepressed subjects behaved similarly during the interactions. However, depression was associated with fewer initiations and more somatic complaints. Depressed subjects reported improved mood following interactions. No differences were found between males' and females' self-report of depression. However, males reported greater negative affect before and after interactions. Partner impressions differed based upon group placement. Females interacting with females were viewed most positively while males interacting with males were viewed most negatively. Sex, and not depression status, appeared to account for these differences. Implications are discussed in terms of support for behavioral and cognitive theories and alterations of the social interactional model.