The Psychological Bulletin, a leading journal in the psychology field, recently published research on depression conducted by the psychology department at Mississippi State University.
Featured in the January 2016 issue, the article analyzed the dot-probe task that looks into how individuals comprehend emotional information by measuring how long it takes them to respond to something positive, negative or neutral.
“In this task, we know that individuals with depressed symptoms value or approach negative words, but what we’re now learning is that they are also avoiding positive words,” Assistant Professor E. Samuel Winer, co-author of the article, said. “This means that individuals suffering from depression may not only not value reward in the way that nondepressed individuals do, but that they may, in fact, devalue reward. That is, they may be less likely to approach rewarding information (such as something hopeful) than anything else.”
Winer said this concept of avoiding positivity isn't commonly addressed in current methods to treat depression.
"The hope is that this new way of conceptualizing depression could ultimately be used to affect clinical change,” Winer said.
Winer conducted the research along with Taban Salem, a graduate of Mississippi State University's clinical psychology masters program.