Depressive mood congruence outside the laboratory setting

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Paul Blaney, Committee Chair


This study investigated the cognitions of mildly-to-moderately depressed individuals in the course of their daily lives. Dysphoric and non-dysphoric college students carried a pager and a booklet of questionnaires for two days, during which they completed one questionnaire each time they were signalled. Half the subjects reported cognitions only; half also reported mood states, thereby eliciting affective self-focus. Subsequently, the cognitions were rated for affectivity (positivity/negativity); this rating served as the dependent variable. An ANOVA revealed a three-way interaction between gender, affective level (dysphoric/non-dysphoric), and questionnaire type. Specifically, dysphoric females reported more negative cognitions than non-dysphoric females regardless of the type of questionnaire they completed, but the cognitions of dysphoric and non-dysphoric males differed in their affective content only if the questionnaires they completed specifically elicited affective self-focus. In the non-mood-elicitation condition, both dysphoric and non-dysphoric women tended toward greater extremes in cognitive affectivity; men tended more toward neutrality. Repeated affective focus for mood condition subjects also resulted in higher subsequently-reported depression levels across gender. Results suggest that negative cognitions and ruminative self-focus are somewhat chronic amongst dysphoric females, but that amongst dysphoric males mood congruence may not be a pervasive element outside experimental and therapeutic settings.


Health Sciences, Mental Health; Psychology, Experimental

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