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The interrelationships of Ellis's self-interest, Adler's social interest, and dysphoria

18 July 1997


The possibility of two pathways from an individual's social interest to dysphoria (depression, anxiety, and hostility) was investigated using Adler's Individual Psychology. Adler postulated that people have an innate potential for social interest, that is, a concern for the human race. If social interest is developed, individuals develop reasons for living which give primacy to the good of humanity through the pursuit of love, fellowship, and work. These reasons for living act to preclude dysphoria. If social interest is not developed, it is replaced with self-interest and private logic. Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy postulates that the irrational beliefs of an individual's private logic demand that life must be as the individual wishes it to be, leading to dysphoria as the demands are not met. The initial causal model hypothesized a direct path from irrational beliefs to dysphoria, while there are two indirect paths from social interest to dysphoria, one through irrational beliefs and one through reasons for living. The hypothesis was tested with college students (N = 131, age mean = 33, range 18-68) using the Social Interest Scale, the Irrational Belief Scale, the Survival and Coping Beliefs subtest of the Reasons for Living Inventory, and the Multiple Affect Adjective Check List - Revised (MAACL-R) as a measure of dysphoria. The initial model was not confirmed by path analysis, probably due to restriction ofrange in the Survival and Coping Beliefs subtest and, to a lesser extent, in the MAACL-R. Two revised models without the Survival and Coping Beliefs subtest were tested, neither being confirmed by path analysis. When the path values of the second revised model were adjusted for internal test reliability, social interest accounted for 17% of the variance in dysphoria, and irrational beliefs accounted for 18%. Of note was that all eight significant correlations from the three models were in the direction of the initial hypothesis, itself a statistically highly significant result.


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