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J Abnorm Psychol. 2005 Nov;114(4):627-39.

Emotion context insensitivity in major depressive disorder.

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Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-7200, USA.


The present study tested 3 competing views of how depression alters emotional reactivity: positive attenuation (reduced positive), negative potentiation (increased negative), and emotion context insensitivity (ECI; reduced positive and negative). Normative and idiographic stimuli that elicited happy, sad, and neutral states were presented to currently depressed, formerly depressed, and healthy control individuals while experiential, behavioral, and autonomic responses were measured. Currently depressed individuals reported less sadness reactivity and less happiness experience across all conditions than did the other participants, and they exhibited a more dysphoric response to idiographic than to normative stimuli. Overall, data provide partial support for the positive attenuation and ECI views. Depression may produce mood-state-dependent changes in emotional reactivity that are most pronounced in emotion experience reports.

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