Publication Date

2013-07-05

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2013-07-05

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-11-01

First Committee Member

Jutta Joormann

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich May

Fourth Committee Member

Heather Henderson

Fifth Committee Member

Edward Rappaport

Abstract

Sustained negative affect is a hallmark feature of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and much evidence indicates that depression is associated with difficulties regulating negative emotions. Whereas many studies have demonstrated an association between rumination and depression, few studies have examined depressed individuals’ ability to utilize adaptive strategies, such as reappraisal. The present study was the first to investigate whether individuals with depression have difficulty effectively using reappraisal in response to a laboratory mood induction. Further, we examined whether interpretive biases and cognitive control deficits underlie individual differences in the ability to reappraise. Consistent with hypotheses, results demonstrated that reappraisal was less effective in reducing subjective sadness among depressed participants compared to controls. In addition, participants’ self-reported dispositional use of emotion regulation strategies was associated with the degree to which reappraisal was successful in reducing their sadness. However, interpretation bias and cognitive control did not differ between the diagnostic groups and were unrelated to the effectiveness of reappraisal in our laboratory task. This study has important implications for theories and interventions of MDD.

Keywords

Depression; Emotion Regulation; Reappraisal; Interpretive Bias; Cognitive Control

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