Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 195–205 | Cite as

Effects of depression on expectancy in sustained attention

  • James A. Griffin
  • William N. Dember
  • Joel S. Warm


The effects of expectancies generated during a pretest on the subsequent vigilance performance of depressed and nondepressed observers were assessed. Among the nondepressed, those who were exposed to a high signal probability during the pretest detected more signals in the main watch than those exposed to a low pretest probability, regardless of the signal probability in the vigil itself (high or low). This expectancy effect was not evident among the depressed. The vigilance decrement in both subject categories was steeper under conditions of low as compared to high test probability. These results indicate that depressed monitors do not demonstrate a deficit in attentional capacity. It is suggested that the nonperseveration of pretest expectancies among the depressed may stem from a lack of motivation to effortfully process information in the same manner as nondepressed observers.


Social Psychology High Signal Subject Category Test Probability Signal Probability 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Griffin
    • 1
  • William N. Dember
    • 2
  • Joel S. Warm
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochester
  2. 2.University of CincinnatiUSA

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