Approach and Avoidance of Emotional Faces in Happy and Sad Mood
SourceCognitive Therapy and Research, 37, 1, (2013), pp. 1-6
Article / Letter to editor
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Cognitive Therapy and Research
SubjectNCEBP 9: Mental health
Since the introduction of the associative network theory, mood-congruent biases in emotional information processing have been established in individuals in a sad and happy mood. Research has concentrated on memory and attentional biases. According to the network theory, mood-congruent behavioral tendencies would also be predicted. Alternatively, a general avoidance pattern would also be in line with the theory. Since cognitive biases have been assumed to operate strongly in case of social stimuli, mood-induced biases in approach and avoidance behavior towards emotional facial expressions were studied. 306 females were subjected to a highly emotional fragment of a sad or a happy movie, to induce either a sad mood or a happy mood. An Approach-Avoidance Task was implemented, in which single pictures of faces (with angry, sad, happy, or neutral expression) and non-social control pictures were presented. In contrast to our expectations, mood states did not produce differential behavioral biases. Mood-congruent and mood-incongruent behavioral tendencies were, however, present in a subgroup of participants with highest depressive symptomatology scores. This suggests that behavioral approach-avoidance biases are not sensitive to mood state, but more related to depressive characteristics.
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