When the Ends Outweigh the Means: Mood and Level-of-construal in Depression
Moberly, Nicholas J.
Cognition and Emotion
Taylor & Francis
Research in healthy controls has found that mood influences cognitive processing via level-of-construal: happy moods are associated with global and abstract processing; sad moods are associated with local and concrete processing. However, this pattern seems inconsistent with the high level of abstract processing observed in depressed patients, leading Watkins (2008) to hypothesize that the association between mood and construal level is impaired in depression. We tested this hypothesis by measuring level-of-construal on the Behavioral Identification Form after happy and sad mood inductions in never-depressed controls and currently depressed patients. Participants used increasingly concrete construals as they became sadder, but this effect was moderated by depression status. Consistent with Watkins’ (2008) hypothesis, increases in sad mood were associated with shifts towards the use of more concrete construals in never-depressed individuals, but not in depressed patients. These findings suggest that the putatively adaptive association between sad mood and level-of-construal is impaired in major depression.
This is a postprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in Cognition and Emotion © 2011 Copyright Taylor & Francis; Cognition and Emotion is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/pcem20
Cognition and Emotion, 2011, 25(7), 1214-1227