Life is . . . great! Emotional attention during instructed and uninstructed ambiguity resolution in relation to depressive symptoms

Alvaro Sanchez*, Jonas Everaert, Laura M.S. De Putter, Sven C. Mueller, Ernst H.W. Koster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Attention and interpretation biases are closely involved in depression. However, it is unclear whether they reflect processing tendencies (i.e., driven by schemas) and/or ability-related processes (i.e., dependent on attentional control). This study tested depressive symptom severity, attention bias, and interpretation bias associations under both processing conditions. Fifty-two participants completed two versions of the scrambled sentences test (to measure interpretation bias) while eye movements were recorded (to measure attention bias). Participants were instructed to unscramble sentences by reporting the first sentence coming to mind (tendency version) and in a fixed, positive manner (ability version). Depressive symptom severity was correlated with attention bias under both conditions. Attention bias acted as an intervening variable in the relation between depressive symptoms and interpretation bias during ability processes. These findings suggest that attention biases reflect both processing tendencies and ability dysfunctions, with attentional control as a relevant mechanism in the interpretation of emotional material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-72
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume109
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Attentional control
  • Cognitive bias
  • Depression
  • Interpretation

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