CHFA | Psychology Department Showcase: Completed Projects

Title

Does This Depression Make Me Look Liberal? Examining the Relationships between Depression, Social Desirability, and Political Ideology

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychology Applied Behavioral Analysis

Minor

Sociology

2nd Student Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

2nd Student Major

Psychology

2nd Student Minor

Legal Studies

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Duncan Gage Jordan

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the United States (Kessler el al., 2003) and has been shown to negatively impact political participation (Ojeda, 2015). However, research has seldom examined the relationship between depression and political ideology specifically (i.e., whether depressed persons are more likely to endorse leaning “left” or “right” politically). Social desirability has also previously been linked with depression and anxiety (Tanaka-Matsumi & Kameoka, 1986), but little is known regarding its relationship to political ideology.

The purpose of this research project is to examine the interrelationships between symptoms of common psychiatric disorders (depression and anxiety), social desirability, political ideology, and religion. Uncovering potential relationships between the aforementioned variables will help researchers gain better insight into the interplay between affective variables and sociocultural facets, such as political ideology and religiosity. Participants (N = 165) completed a battery of questionnaires online via SONA, an online program utilized by the psychology department at Murray State University, including measures assessing depression, anxiety, political ideology, nicotine and alcohol use, and social desirability.

Correlation and regression analyses were conducted to investigate the following primary hypotheses:

  1. There will be a positive correlation between social desirability and depression, such that

  2. There will be a negative correlation between religion and social desirability, such that religious individuals will endorse lower levels of social desirability than areligious individuals.

  3. Depression and political ideology will be correlated, such that people with greater depression severity will identify as being more politically left-wing. Similarly, it is hypothesized that anxiety and political ideology will be correlated in the same manner, such that individuals endorsing greater anxiety symptomatology will also identify as being more politically left-wing.

Correlational results indicated a significant positive correlation between depression and social desirability, as well as a significant negative correlation between religion and social desirability. These results suggest that individuals who identify as religious endorse lower levels of social desirability than do areligious individuals. Furthermore, depression and anxiety were both negatively associated with political ideology, suggesting that individuals endorsed higher levels of depression and anxiety identify more with left-wing political ideology than with right-wing political ideology (i.e., as lower scores on the political ideology scale reflect a preference for left/liberal-based stances). These findings reveal the importance of social desirability as a potential predictor of mental health symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. The results also suggest political ideology is associated with affective symptoms, and future research may further assess possible mediating or moderating factors that explain or impact these relationships.

References:

Grant, V., Stewart, S., O'Connor, R., Blackwell, E., & Conrod, P. (2007). Psychometric evaluation of the five-factor modified drinking motives questionnaire- revised in undergraduates. Addicted Behavior, 32, 2611-2632. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.07.004

Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Koretz, D., Merikangas, K. R., Rush, A. J., Walters, E. E., Wang, P. S., & National Comorbidity Survey Replication (2003). The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). JAMA, 289(23), 3095–3105. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.289.23.3095

Ojeda, C. (2015). Depression and political participation. Social Science Quarterly, 96(1), 1226-1243. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12173

Pedrelli, P., et al., Gender differences in the relationships among major depressive disorder, heavy alcohol use, and mental health treatment engagement among college students, Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2016. DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2016.77.620.

Tanaka-Matsumi, J., & Kameoka, V. A. (1986). Reliabilities and concurrent validities of popular self-report measures of depression, anxiety, and social desirability. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54(3), 328–333. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.54.3.328

Location

Waterfield Gallery

Start Date

November 2021

End Date

November 2021

Fall Scholars Week 2021 Event

Psychology: Completed Projects

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Nov 16th, 9:30 AM Nov 16th, 12:30 PM

Does This Depression Make Me Look Liberal? Examining the Relationships between Depression, Social Desirability, and Political Ideology

Waterfield Gallery

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the United States (Kessler el al., 2003) and has been shown to negatively impact political participation (Ojeda, 2015). However, research has seldom examined the relationship between depression and political ideology specifically (i.e., whether depressed persons are more likely to endorse leaning “left” or “right” politically). Social desirability has also previously been linked with depression and anxiety (Tanaka-Matsumi & Kameoka, 1986), but little is known regarding its relationship to political ideology.

The purpose of this research project is to examine the interrelationships between symptoms of common psychiatric disorders (depression and anxiety), social desirability, political ideology, and religion. Uncovering potential relationships between the aforementioned variables will help researchers gain better insight into the interplay between affective variables and sociocultural facets, such as political ideology and religiosity. Participants (N = 165) completed a battery of questionnaires online via SONA, an online program utilized by the psychology department at Murray State University, including measures assessing depression, anxiety, political ideology, nicotine and alcohol use, and social desirability.

Correlation and regression analyses were conducted to investigate the following primary hypotheses:

  1. There will be a positive correlation between social desirability and depression, such that

  2. There will be a negative correlation between religion and social desirability, such that religious individuals will endorse lower levels of social desirability than areligious individuals.

  3. Depression and political ideology will be correlated, such that people with greater depression severity will identify as being more politically left-wing. Similarly, it is hypothesized that anxiety and political ideology will be correlated in the same manner, such that individuals endorsing greater anxiety symptomatology will also identify as being more politically left-wing.

Correlational results indicated a significant positive correlation between depression and social desirability, as well as a significant negative correlation between religion and social desirability. These results suggest that individuals who identify as religious endorse lower levels of social desirability than do areligious individuals. Furthermore, depression and anxiety were both negatively associated with political ideology, suggesting that individuals endorsed higher levels of depression and anxiety identify more with left-wing political ideology than with right-wing political ideology (i.e., as lower scores on the political ideology scale reflect a preference for left/liberal-based stances). These findings reveal the importance of social desirability as a potential predictor of mental health symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. The results also suggest political ideology is associated with affective symptoms, and future research may further assess possible mediating or moderating factors that explain or impact these relationships.

References:

Grant, V., Stewart, S., O'Connor, R., Blackwell, E., & Conrod, P. (2007). Psychometric evaluation of the five-factor modified drinking motives questionnaire- revised in undergraduates. Addicted Behavior, 32, 2611-2632. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.07.004

Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Koretz, D., Merikangas, K. R., Rush, A. J., Walters, E. E., Wang, P. S., & National Comorbidity Survey Replication (2003). The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). JAMA, 289(23), 3095–3105. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.289.23.3095

Ojeda, C. (2015). Depression and political participation. Social Science Quarterly, 96(1), 1226-1243. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12173

Pedrelli, P., et al., Gender differences in the relationships among major depressive disorder, heavy alcohol use, and mental health treatment engagement among college students, Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2016. DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2016.77.620.

Tanaka-Matsumi, J., & Kameoka, V. A. (1986). Reliabilities and concurrent validities of popular self-report measures of depression, anxiety, and social desirability. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54(3), 328–333. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.54.3.328