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Negative Interpretation Bias in Individuals with Depressive Symptoms

Abstract

Negative interpretations are a central component of cognitive models of depression. Previous research on interpretation biases in depression has relied on self-report measures. Self-report measures have limited validity because they may measure a response bias rather than a cognitive bias. To overcome this limitation, recent investigations have used response latencies as a measure of interpretation bias with mixed results. We examined interpretation bias using a modified word sentence association paradigm (Beard and Amir in Cogn Therapy Res 33:406–415, 2009). In comparison with individuals without dysphoria, dysphoric individuals were significantly faster to endorse the association between negative words and ambiguous sentences. These results suggest that negative interpretations are primed in depression, suggesting that training towards benign interpretations may have therapeutic value.

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Notes

  1. While the dysphoric group is somewhat heterogeneous, those within the group who scored below a 20 on the BDI-II are more similar to those who scored higher than 20 on the BDI-II than to non-dysphoric individuals, although as expected, all indications of negative thinking and depressive symptoms are attenuated in the lower dysphoric subgroup than in the higher subgroup.

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Acknowledgments

The preparation of this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R34 MH073004-01, R34 MH077129-01) awarded to the second author. We thank Brandon Gibb for his helpful comments and suggestions during the early conceptualization of this study.

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Correspondence to Nader Amir.

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This manuscript is based on data previously published as a thesis in partial fulfillment of the first author’s master’s degree.

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Hindash, A.H.C., Amir, N. Negative Interpretation Bias in Individuals with Depressive Symptoms. Cogn Ther Res 36, 502–511 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-011-9397-4

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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Cognitive bias
  • Interpretation
  • Information processing