Uncritical use of non-evidence-based self-help materials induces victim-blaming on depressed individuals

Chun YEUNG*, Vivian Miu-Chi LUN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Popular self-help materials claim that reading and internalizing positive self-statements promotes well-being. Four studies were conducted to examine how these materials may instead heighten individuals’ tendency to lay blame on those who suffer from depression. Study 1 showed positive correlation between usage of positive self-statement and victim-blaming tendency. In Study 2, participants who were only told about the benefits of positive self-statements showed more victim-blaming than those who were informed about their mixed effects. Study 3 revealed that participants who read non-evidence-based positive self-statements tended to show higher victim-blaming than those who read other statements, and the statistical significance of this effect was verified in the better-powered replication Study 4. These findings showed that uncritical use of non-evidence-based self-help materials has small but robust effect on inducing victim-blaming, r =.17, 95% CI [.11,.23]. Detailing the conditional effects of these materials to users may alleviate this negative impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-502
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Positive Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

This paper was supported by an internal funding of Lingnan University [SSFRG/15/2/2] and partially by a funding of the Research Grants Council in Hong Kong [13603517].


  • Self-help
  • depression
  • positive self-statement
  • victim-blaming


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