Title

Self-Focused Attention in Depression: An Analogue Study of Ad Libitum Viewing Behavior

Abstract

The theory of approach-avoidance motivation, which contends that humans and animals alike approach pleasurable stimuli and avoid unpleasant stimuli, explains the attentional patterns of healthy individuals. However, depression appears to disrupt these patterns. We present evidence for a broken approach-avoidance motivational system in depressed individuals, citing the differences in self-focused attention between healthy and depressed participants. In our study, we examined how depression influences self-focused attention. It has been shown that increases in attention toward the self can be interpreted as a consequence of reduced motivation to pursue positive mood states and escape negative ones. By measuring the time spent attending to various stimuli, including images of the self, and by monitoring mood over time, we are able to examine self-focused attention of participants in the context of the approach-avoidance motivation.

Faculty Sponsor

Tom Armstrong

Sponsor Department/Programs

Psychology

Tracks

Body and Mind

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Location

Olin 157

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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Self-Focused Attention in Depression: An Analogue Study of Ad Libitum Viewing Behavior

Olin 157

The theory of approach-avoidance motivation, which contends that humans and animals alike approach pleasurable stimuli and avoid unpleasant stimuli, explains the attentional patterns of healthy individuals. However, depression appears to disrupt these patterns. We present evidence for a broken approach-avoidance motivational system in depressed individuals, citing the differences in self-focused attention between healthy and depressed participants. In our study, we examined how depression influences self-focused attention. It has been shown that increases in attention toward the self can be interpreted as a consequence of reduced motivation to pursue positive mood states and escape negative ones. By measuring the time spent attending to various stimuli, including images of the self, and by monitoring mood over time, we are able to examine self-focused attention of participants in the context of the approach-avoidance motivation.

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