Coherence and specificity of information-processing biases in depression and social phobia

Ian H. Gotlib, Karen L. Kasch, Saskia Traill, Bruce A. Arnow, Jutta Joormann, Sheri L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

282 Scopus citations


Research has not resolved whether depression is associated with a distinct information-processing bias, whether the content of the information-processing bias in depression is specific to themes of loss and sadness, or whether biases are consistent across the tasks most commonly used to assess attention and memory processing. In the present study, participants diagnosed with major depression, social phobia, or no Axis I disorder, completed several information-processing tasks assessing attention and memory for sad, socially threatening, physically threatening, and positive stimuli. As predicted, depressed participants exhibited specific biases for stimuli connoting sadness; social phobic participants did not evidence such specificity for threat stimuli. It is important to note that the different measures of bias in memory and attention were not systematically intercorrelated. Implications for the study of cognitive bias in depression, and for cognitive theory more broadly, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-398
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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