Egocentrism in sub-clinical depression

Thorsten M. Erle*, Niklas Barth, Sascha Topolinski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Depression is marked by rigid thinking and the inability to generate different and more positive views on the self. The current study conceptualises this a perspective-taking deficit, which is defined as a deficit in the ability to overcome one's egocentrism. Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with depression are impaired in Theory of Mind reasoning and empathy - two social cognitions that involve cognitive and affective perspective-taking. Here, it was investigated whether these deficits generalise to visuo-spatial perspective-taking. To test this, a convenience sample (N = 268; n = 62 high depressive symptoms; n = 206 healthy control participants) completed a test-battery including measures of cognitive and visuo-spatial perspective-taking and closely matched cognitive and visuo-spatial control tasks. The results showed that individuals exhibiting high levels of depressive symptoms were specifically impaired on both perspective-taking tasks but performed equally well on the control tasks. Interventions to combat rigid thinking in depression are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1248
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Depression
  • perspective-taking
  • empathy
  • theory of mind
  • grounded cognition


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