Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 79–91 | Cite as

Interpretation of Ambiguous Information in Girls at Risk for Depression

  • Karen F. Dearing
  • Ian H. GotlibEmail author


Research has consistently documented that depressed individuals process information in a negatively biased manner. There is little evidence, however, concerning whether these biases represent risk factors for depression, as is hypothesized by cognitive models. In the present study we investigated whether a particular cognitive bias observed in currently depressed individuals, the tendency to interpret ambiguous information negatively, characterizes daughters of depressed mothers, a population known to be at increased risk for depression. Following a negative mood induction, young daughters of depressed and never-disordered mothers completed two information-processing tasks in which their interpretations of emotionally ambiguous stimuli were evaluated. Daughters of depressed mothers interpreted ambiguous words more negatively and less positively, and ambiguous stories more negatively, than did daughters of never-disordered mothers. These results provide support for cognitive vulnerability models of depression.


Depression Cognitive bias Risk for depression Adolescents Information processing 



This research was supported by a Distinguished Scientist Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD) and grant MH074849 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Ian H. Gotlib.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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