Unpacking affect maintenance and its association with depressive symptoms: integrating positive and negative affects

Cognition and Emotion (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Depression is associated with increased maintenance of negative affect (NA) and reduced – blunted and short-lived – maintenance of positive affect (PA). Studies have focused on factors associated with the maintenance of NA, specifically, the emotion regulation strategy of brooding and the capacity to hold negative affective experiences in working memory (WM). Despite its theoretical importance, less attention has been given to factors associated with the maintenance of PA in depression. This study aims to synthesise factors playing a role in the maintenance of both NA and PA. Specifically, we used self-reported assessment of PA and NA regulation and performance-based measures of NA and PA processing in WM to predict depressive symptoms severity. Participants (N = 219) completed the Affective Maintenance Task (AMT, Mikels et al., Citation2008), which provided performance-based measures of PA and NA maintenance, and filled out questionnaires assessing brooding, positive rumination and depressive severity. Brooding, positive rumination and AMT-based measures of positive (but not negative) affective information processing were independently associated with depressive symptoms. We highlight the unique contributions of PA processing, as well as of self-reported emotion regulation strategies in understanding depression maintenance.

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