Divergent predictors of implicit and explicit interpretation bias: The role of cognitive schemata, emotion regulation and depressive symptoms

Cognition plays a critical role in human emotion regulation. There is ample evidence that a negative interpretation bias may impair emotion regulation and increase vulnerability to stress-related mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, the presence of a positive interpretation bias has been linked to positive mental health outcomes such as psychological resilience. While empirical findings for an explicitly assessed interpretation bias are rather consistent, implicit measures revealed heterogeneous results. Previous studies have shown that implicit measures are promising for objectively assessing automatic emotional processes beyond deliberate control. Here, we investigate an interpretation bias with both an explicit ambiguous social situations task (DUCTUS) and an implicit ambiguous cue-conditioning task (ACCT; compare to Schick et al., 2013) in relation to cognitive schemata, emotion regulation (ER) capacities, depression and anxiety in healthy and depressed participants. Therefore, this study aims to shed new light into the impact of adaptive or maladaptive emotion regulation strategies on a negative interpretation bias, which is associated to negative emotional states (e.g., depression). Regression analyses are going to be conducted to predict variance in the explicit and implicit biased interpretation of ambiguous social situations. Our findings are going to be discussed in the light of counseling implications regarding the prevention of stress-related mental disorders as well as the development of interventions to foster psychological resilience.

Prof. Dr. Michèle Wessa (principal investigator),
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Stefanie M. Jungmann (Clinical Psychology, JGU Mainz)
Dipl.-Psych. Sandra Schönfelder,
M. Sc. Eike Strömer,
Dipl.-Psych. Mila Domke-Wolf