This study investigates inhibitory dysfunctions in the processing of emotional material and their relation to depressive symptomatology and vulnerability. In a series of three experiments, a negative priming task with positive and negative distractor and target words was presented. The negative priming task makes it possible to assess the degree of inhibition of activated but nongoal-relevant stimulus representations. Results indicate that participants with elevated depression scores fail to show negative priming in affective evaluation and self-reference tasks. Moreover, participants reporting a history of major depressive episodes fail to show negative priming when asked to respond to the valence or self-descriptiveness of emotional stimuli. The obtained results are in line with the hypothesis that depression is associated with an inhibitory deficit for negative information. Implications of these results for research on selective attention in depression are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)