Implicit and explicit behavioral tendencies in male and female depression

ArticleinPsychiatry Research 177(1-2):124-30 · March 2010with9 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2010.02.001 · Source: PubMed
Emotional facial expressions are the most salient cues in social life. Successful social interaction is based on correct recognition, interpretation and appropriate reaction to these cues. However, social skill deficits are among the most debilitating symptoms of depression, leading to social withdrawal and aggravating the disorder in various domains. We used an implicit joystick task to measure automatic behavioral tendencies in response to evoked facial expressions (anger, fear, sadness, happiness and neutral). Additionally, we implemented a rating procedure to assess explicit approach and avoidance reactions to these social stimuli. Our sample consisted of 24 depressed patients and 24 healthy controls. Data analysis indicated that depressed patients appear to understand the expression depicted on the emotional faces but react differently to these social cues. Female patients displayed stronger avoidance tendencies in the explicit condition whereas social withdrawal was less pronounced in the implicit condition. Our data suggest that a cognitive bias negatively influences the unimpaired automatic reactions to emotional expressions in depressed patients, and this bias may result in the characteristic social withdrawal.
    • "Thus, although people who are depressed most often have normal or elevated levels of empathy, their affect-directed, automatic causal interpretations of pain in others are often disturbed, leading to non-conscious assertions of blame, usually placed on themselves (O'Connor et al., 2007). This personal distress may motivate depressed individuals to withdraw from stressful social situations and avoid similar situations in the future (Seidel et al., 2010), which can be perceived by others as low empathic concern (Schreiter et al., 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depression is associated with social risk factors, social impairments and poor social functioning. This paper gives an overview of these social aspects using the NIMH Research and Domain Criteria ‘Systems for Social Processes’ as a framework. In particular, it describes the bio-psycho-social interplay regarding impaired affiliation and attachment (social anhedonia, hyper-sensitivity to social rejection, competition avoidance, increased altruistic punishment), impaired social communication (impaired emotion recognition, diminished cooperativeness), impaired social perception (reduced empathy, theory-of-mind deficits) and their impact on social networks and the use of social media. It describes these dysfunctional social processes at the behavioural, neuroanatomical, neurochemical and genetic levels, and with respect to animal models of social stress. We discuss the diagnostic specificity of these social deficit constructs for depression and in relation to depression severity. Since social factors are importantly involved in the pathogenesis and the consequences of depression, such research will likely contribute to better diagnostic assessments and concepts, treatments and preventative strategies both at the diagnostic and transdiagnostic level.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2016
    • "Neuroticism can be one of the best predictors of the risk of depression [5]. Some studies have reported that, compared to healthy individuals, individuals with depression showed a more pronounced tendency to avoid emotional facial expressions [27]. Although our study focused exclusively on healthy adults, the current results suggest that avoidance or overestimation of emotional arousal in response to emotional facial expressions may lead to problems in communicating via facial expressions and result in social withdrawal in depressed patients. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rapid detection of emotional signals from facial expressions is fundamental for human social interaction. The personality factor of neuroticism modulates the processing of various types of emotional facial expressions; however, its effect on the detection of emotional facial expressions remains unclear. In this study, participants with high- and low-neuroticism scores performed a visual search task to detect normal expressions of anger and happiness, and their anti-expressions within a crowd of neutral expressions. Anti-expressions contained an amount of visual changes equivalent to those found in normal expressions compared to neutral expressions, but they were usually recognized as neutral expressions. Subjective emotional ratings in response to each facial expression stimulus were also obtained. Participants with high-neuroticism showed an overall delay in the detection of target facial expressions compared to participants with low-neuroticism. Additionally, the high-neuroticism group showed higher levels of arousal to facial expressions compared to the low-neuroticism group. These data suggest that neuroticism modulates the detection of emotional facial expressions in healthy participants; high levels of neuroticism delay overall detection of facial expressions and enhance emotional arousal in response to facial expressions.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016
    • "While motivational research often focuses on approach deficits in depression, a disturbance in avoidance processes may be equally important and relevant to cognitive control performance among depressed individuals [18]. For example, depressed patients learn faster to avoid risky gambles [19], and demonstrate faster motor response to withdraw from negative stimuli such as negative faces [20] . It has also been suggested that one of the characteristics of depression is the increased difficulty to disengage from negative material2122. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dysfunctions of approach and avoidance motivation play an important role in depression, which in turn may affect cognitive control, i.e., the ability to regulate thoughts and action to achieve internal goals. We use a novel experimental paradigm, i.e. a computer simulated driving-task, to study the impact of depression on cognitive control by measuring approach and avoidance actions in continuous time. In this task, 39 subjects with minimal to severe depression symptoms were instructed to use a joystick to move a virtual car as quickly as possible to a target point without crossing a stop-sign or crashing into a wall. We recorded their continuous actions on a joystick and found that depression 1) leads to further stopping distance to task target; and 2) increases the magnitude of late deceleration (avoidance) but not early acceleration (approach), which was only observed in the stop-sign condition. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that depressed individuals have greater avoidance motivation near stopping target, but are minimally affected by approach motivation.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
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