Impact of depression on response to comedy: A dynamic facial coding analysis

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.15). 11/2007; 116(4):804-9. DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.116.4.804
Source: PubMed


Individuals suffering from depression show diminished facial responses to positive stimuli. Recent cognitive research suggests that depressed individuals may appraise emotional stimuli differently than do nondepressed persons. Prior studies do not indicate whether depressed individuals respond differently when they encounter positive stimuli that are difficult to avoid. The authors investigated dynamic responses of individuals varying in both history of major depressive disorder (MDD) and current depressive symptomatology (N = 116) to robust positive stimuli. The Facial Action Coding System (Ekman & Friesen, 1978) was used to measure affect-related responses to a comedy clip. Participants reporting current depressive symptomatology were more likely to evince affect-related shifts in expression following the clip than were those without current symptomatology. This effect of current symptomatology emerged even when the contrast focused only on individuals with a history of MDD. Specifically, persons with current depressive symptomatology were more likely than those without current symptomatology to control their initial smiles with negative affect-related expressions. These findings suggest that integration of emotion science and social cognition may yield important advances for understanding depression.

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    • "Studies in clinical populations have shown differences in the expression of DS in response to positive stimuli, compared to healthy controls (HC). For example, individuals suffering from depression have been found to produce fewer DS when exposed to positive stimuli (Ekman et al., 2005) and to show smiles that were followed by negative affect-related expressions in response to amusing film clips (Reed et al., 2007). Participants with schizophrenia display fewer DS when induced to feel positive emotions through remembering biographic emotional situations (Kohler et al., 2008). "
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    • "Much research using FACS has focused on the occurrence and AU composition of different expressions (Ekman and Rosenberg, 2005). For example, smiles that recruit the orbicularis oculi muscle (i.e., AU 6) are more likely to occur during pleasant circumstances (Ekman et al., 1990, Frank et al., 1993) and smiles that recruit the buccinator muscle (i.e., AU 14) are more likely to occur during active depression (Reed et al., 2007, Girard et al., 2013). A promising subset of research has begun to focus on what can be learned about and from the intensity of expressions. "
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