An exploratory study investigating the relationship between self-discrepancies, anxiety, depression and coping styles among university students.
Different types of self-discrepancies are associated with different negative affects. The present study explored the relationship between self-discrepancies and depression and anxiety. In addition the relationship between self-discrepancies and coping styles was examined. Data was gathered from questionnaires distributed to second and third year undergraduate psychology students at the University of Natal - Pietermaritzburg. The final sample consisted of 113 subjects. The data was analysed using the Pearson product-moment correlation, hierarchical multiple regression, and non parametric tests. The results of the study showed that subjects are more bound to ideal self-guides, more so those pertaining to their own standpoint. Further, it was found that female subjects manifested higher self-discrepancies than male subjects, except in the ideal/own domain where male subjects had a relatively higher discrepancy. Female subjects manifested the highest discrepancy in the ideal/other domain. In terms of the relationship between the self-discrepancies and affect, it was found that both the total ideal discrepancy and the total ought discrepancy correlated positively with anxiety, with the total ideal discrepancy having a slightly higher correlation. Further, there was a significant positive correlation between the total ideal discrepancy and depression. More specifically a significant positive correlation between the ought/own discrepancy and depression was noted. With regard to coping styles, the findings showed that overall, Black subjects, male subjects and subjects from the lower socioeconomic group used the acceptance style of coping more frequently. Further, some significant positive and negative correlations were noted between different self-discrepancies and different coping styles. In addition, some significant positive and negative correlations were also noted between depression and anxiety and the use of different coping styles. The results were discussed in terms of the self-discrepancy and coping literature.