Resolving ambiguity in everyday life: A multi-method longitudinal investigation of the nature and socio-affective consequences of inflexible negative interpretations linked to depressive symptoms.
Increased efforts to identify mechanisms underlying depression are crucial to develop more effective approaches to its treatment. Theories propose that a bias toward inferring negative interpretations of ambiguity plays a crucial role in depression, but little is known about how this bias exerts its toxic effects. This project expands on the novel hypothesis that inflexibility in how people revise negative interpretations of social situations engenders depressive symptoms by undermining their ability to successfully navigate the social world. This project takes a pioneering step in capturing and modeling (a) how people with depressive symptoms revise negative interpretations based on social interactions in daily life, (b) how inflexible interpretations dysregulate social emotions and behavior to generate social stress (and vice versa), and (c) how inflexible interpretations shape a person’s position in social networks and fuels depressive symptoms. Methodologically, this project involves three studies using innovative data collection procedures combining ecological momentary assessment, mobile sensing, and longitudinal follow-up in community adult samples. The newfound knowledge will (a) further the understanding of the fundamental role of cognition in socio-affective difficulties in depression, (b) provide empirical grounds to extend dominant theories beyond their current boundaries, and (c) guide novel advances in treatment to alleviate the burden imposed by depression.
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