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Cognitive and emotional processing of pleasant and unpleasant experiences in major depression: A matter of vantage point?


Pfaltz, Monique C; Wu, Gwyneth W Y; Liu, Guanyu; Tankersley, Amelia P; Stilley, Ashley M; Plichta, Michael M; McNally, Richard J (2017). Cognitive and emotional processing of pleasant and unpleasant experiences in major depression: A matter of vantage point? Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 54:254-262.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In nonclinical populations, adopting a third-person perspective as opposed to a first-person perspective while analyzing negative emotional experiences fosters understanding of these experiences and reduces negative emotional reactivity. We assessed whether this generalizes to people with major depression (MD). Additionally, we assessed whether the emotion-reducing effects of adopting a third-person perspective also occur when subjects with MD and HC subjects analyze positive experiences. METHODS: Seventy-two MD subjects and 82 HC subjects analyzed a happy and a negative experience from either a first-person or a third-person perspective. RESULTS: Unexpectedly, we found no emotion-reducing effects of third-person perspective in either group thinking about negative events. However, across groups, third-person perspective was associated with less recounting of negative experiences and with a clearer, more coherent understanding of them. Negative affect decreased and positive affect increased in both groups analyzing happy experiences. In MD subjects, decreases in depressive affect were stronger for the third-person perspective. In both groups, positive affect increased and negative affect decreased more strongly for the third-person perspective. LIMITATIONS: While reflecting on their positive memory, MD subjects adopted their assigned perspective for a shorter amount of time (70%) than HC subjects (78%). However, percentage of time participants adopted their assigned perspective was unrelated to the significant effects we found. CONCLUSIONS: Both people suffering from MD and healthy individuals may benefit from processing pleasant experiences, especially when adopting a self-distant perspective.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In nonclinical populations, adopting a third-person perspective as opposed to a first-person perspective while analyzing negative emotional experiences fosters understanding of these experiences and reduces negative emotional reactivity. We assessed whether this generalizes to people with major depression (MD). Additionally, we assessed whether the emotion-reducing effects of adopting a third-person perspective also occur when subjects with MD and HC subjects analyze positive experiences. METHODS: Seventy-two MD subjects and 82 HC subjects analyzed a happy and a negative experience from either a first-person or a third-person perspective. RESULTS: Unexpectedly, we found no emotion-reducing effects of third-person perspective in either group thinking about negative events. However, across groups, third-person perspective was associated with less recounting of negative experiences and with a clearer, more coherent understanding of them. Negative affect decreased and positive affect increased in both groups analyzing happy experiences. In MD subjects, decreases in depressive affect were stronger for the third-person perspective. In both groups, positive affect increased and negative affect decreased more strongly for the third-person perspective. LIMITATIONS: While reflecting on their positive memory, MD subjects adopted their assigned perspective for a shorter amount of time (70%) than HC subjects (78%). However, percentage of time participants adopted their assigned perspective was unrelated to the significant effects we found. CONCLUSIONS: Both people suffering from MD and healthy individuals may benefit from processing pleasant experiences, especially when adopting a self-distant perspective.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:17 Oct 2016 10:28
Last Modified:17 Oct 2016 10:28
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0005-7916
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.09.001
PubMed ID:27693905

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