Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology,
Depression is associated with a host of interpersonal difficulties, particularly within intimate relationships. Although a significant body of literature has supported the presence of a highly consolidated negative self-representation or selfschema, no studies have examined whether depression is also associated with a highly organized negative “partner-schema”, and whether this represents a risk factor for relationship distress. Given the high degree of similarity between cognitive representations of self and close others, it was predicted that depression would be associated with a partner-schema structure mirroring that of the selfschema: an organized cognitive structure characterized by tightly interconnected negative information, and loosely dispersed positive information. In a sample of 291 undergraduate students, results supported this hypothesis. The findings also revealed that partner-schema structure was associated with relationship quality and attributions about a partner’s behaviors over and above self-schema structure. These findings have important implications for understanding the link between cognitive risk factors, relational dysfunction, and depressive symptoms.