The Resentful Embittered Personality, Adjustment and Depression in Student and Marital Relationships
Velyvis, Vytas P.
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Hostility and anger have long been shown to be predictive of negative psychological, interpersonal and physical outcomes. Much of the literature, has focused on hostility as a state rather than a personality trait and has not attempted to explicate the link between embittered personality and depression. To achieve these goals, a newly created measure called the Resentful Embittered Personality Scale (REPS) was evaluated in detail. First, the literature examining the construct of embitterment and hostility was reviewed, its links with depression was explained, and unpublished pilot data were reviewed. Next, the psychometric properties, convergent and divergent validity, and reliability of the REPS were evaluated in the first study by exploring correlations with the NEO-FFI and other specific personality constructs and measures of hostility and distress. The second study evaluated the REPS with the larger measure of general personality, the NEO-PI-R, to further understand the nuances of these relationships between the REPS and the specific facets from the Big Five measure of personality. The focus of the third study was to examine the REPS with respect to both well-being and distress along with measures of stress. Finally, the fourth study examined the predictive validity of the REPS with respect to dyadic adjustment and depression six months later, after the birth of their first child. Results showed that the REPS was a valid and reliable measure and that the construct’s associations with certain factors of the NEO-PI R suggested that it reflected a highly ego-defensive and interpersonally sensitive personality style that likely functioned to set up a self-fulfilling prophecy of expected and elicited interpersonally conflictual exchanges. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses found that the REPS predicted both main and interactive effects of psychological distress and well-being over and above other personality and stress measures. Finally, embittered personality predicted poorer dyadic adjustment and depression for both male and female heterosexual couples three months after the birth of their first child. Together these results lent support to the interpersonal and negative affectivity theories of depression and have shown the REPS to be a valid, reliable and useful personality measure for personality, interpersonal and clinical purposes.