Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-9-2016

Major Department or Program



Tom Armstrong


Previous research has demonstrated that depressed individuals tend to exhibit increased levels of self-focused attention relative to non-depressed individuals. However, these studies have examined only how depression increases self-focused cognition, without investigating how these thoughts are manifested in behavior. This study was designed to determine whether behavioral responses to external, self-relevant stimuli are consistent with findings of elevated attention towards the self in individuals with high levels of depressive symptoms. In the current study, we used an ad libitum viewing task, in which participants progressed through a series of images one at a time at their own pace, to examine behavior. Participants (N = 63) completed two ad libitum viewing tasks of various images that included images of each participant’s own face. The first ad libitum viewing task took place before a sad mood induction, and the second one took place after a sad mood induction. We found a significant, positive correlation between depressive symptoms and self-focused attention, which we measured as the amount of time spent viewing images of one’s own face. We also predicted that depressive symptoms would be negatively correlated with the ability to repair mood following the sad mood induction, but this hypothesis was not supported.

Keywords: depression, self-focused attention, approach-avoidance motivation

Page Count


Subject Headings

Behavioral assesment‚ Motivation (Psychology) -- Research‚ Personality and motivation -- Self-avoidance, Behavioral symptoms -- Psychology, Psychology -- Ability testing, Interest (Psychology) -- Behavior -- Depression, Social sciences, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Psychology Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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Psychology Commons



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