Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 790–801 | Cite as

I don’t care about others’ approval: Dysphoric individuals show reduced effort mobilization for obtaining a social reward

  • Kerstin Brinkmann
  • Jessica Franzen
  • Cyrielle Rossier
  • Guido H. E. Gendolla
Original Paper


Past research on reduced reward responsiveness in depression and dysphoria has mainly focused on monetary rewards. However, social rewards are important motivators and might be especially impaired in depression. The present study tested the hypothesis that nondysphoric individuals would mobilize more effort during a memory task without a clear performance standard when anticipating social approval for good performance. In contrast, dysphoric individuals were expected to be less sensitive to this reward and to mobilize less effort. Effort mobilization in this 2 (dysphoric vs. nondysphoric) × 2 (no reward vs. social approval) between-persons study was operationalized by participants’ cardiovascular reactivity. Results confirmed that nondysphorics had higher reactivity of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate when expecting to enter their name in the alleged “best list”, whereas dysphorics had lower cardiovascular reactivity. The present study expands evidence for reduced reward responsiveness in depression and dysphoria from an effort mobilization perspective by demonstrating reduced effort-related cardiovascular reactivity to social rewards.


Depression Effort mobilization Cardiovascular reactivity Social reward Reward responsiveness 



Kerstin Brinkmann, Jessica Franzen, Cyrielle Rossier, Guido H. E. Gendolla, Geneva Motivation Lab, University of Geneva, Switzerland. This research was supported by a research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 100014-134557) awarded to the first author. Parts of the present research were presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, New Orleans, LA, September 19–23, 2012, at the 25th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC, May 23–26, 2013, and at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Motivation, Washington, DC, May 23, 2013.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerstin Brinkmann
    • 1
  • Jessica Franzen
    • 1
  • Cyrielle Rossier
    • 1
  • Guido H. E. Gendolla
    • 1
  1. 1.Geneva Motivation Lab, FPSE, Department of PsychologyUniversity of GenevaGeneva 4Switzerland

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