Background: Although increased conflicts between attitudes and beliefs about certain goals or values are often discussed as important factors in depression, there are only few empirical studies investigating these relations among patients with depressive disorders. Methods: In the present study, we used the Intrapersonal Conflict Test to assess cognitive inconsistencies in goals or values. A total of 53 inpatients with unipolar depression and 24 nondepressed controls (inpatients of an internal and a surgery ward) participated in the study. In addition to the Intrapersonal Conflict Test, patients completed the Beck Depression Inventory, the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems as well as the Problem Solving Inventory. Results: Compared with controls, patients with depressive disorders showed significantly higher scores for global inconsistencies, inconsistencies within different goals/values, as well as between goals/values and their perceived realization. Significant correlations were found between conflict measures and the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems, as well as the Problem Solving Inventory. Path analyses show that group differences in intrapersonal conflicts were partially mediated by interpersonal problems but not by depressive symptoms or cognitive vulnerability factors. Conclusions: Given the cross-sectional design of the study, the findings of this exploratory study do not allow for conclusions regarding the role of intrapersonal conflicts in the development and course of depression. Nevertheless, the high levels of intrapersonal conflicts observed in the study suggest that inconsistencies in goals or values should be considered in the psychological treatment of depression.

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