Researchers in Germany say people who more often use first-person singular pronouns are more depressed than others.

In a small study, Johannes Zimmerman of the University of Kassel conducted psychotherapeutic interviews with 103 women and 15 men, 99 of whom were patients receiving treatment for conditions ranging from eating disorders to anxiety. The researchers conducted 60- to 90-minute interviews with subjects, asking about their relationships, pasts, and self-perception.

Those who more often used first-person singular pronouns — such as me, myself, and I — were more likely to be depressed, researchers said. Additionally, such people displayed more problematic interpersonal behavior, like attention-seeking, inappropriate self-disclosure, and an inability to spend time alone.

By contrast, people who more often used plurual pronouns, such as "we," exhibited what researchers called a "cold" interpersonal style, maintaining "appropriate" boundaries while still engaging in healthy, productive relationships. The researchers posited that those who used more first-person singular pronouns saw themselves as more distinct from others, and sought to call attention to themselves in an effort to remedy a hunger for greater interconnectivity.

"Using first-person singular pronouns highlights the self as a distinct entity," Zimmerman said, "whereas using first-person plural pronouns emphasizes its embeddedness into social relationships."

In other words, those who used more singular pronouns were "needier."

The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.