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Depression and Attachment: Effects on Reappraisal Performance

According to previous research, cognitive reappraisal is an effective strategy for downregulatingemotion, or reducing negative affect, in response to viewing distressing stimuli. However, there is debate as to whether mood disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), affect one’s ability to reappraise. The present study sought to answer two questions related to reappraisal and depression.First, we examined the effect of depression on reappraisal outcomes. We hypothesized that severity of depression would be associated with reduced reappraisal performance (i.e., less effectivedownregulation of emotion). We assessed 78 participants for severity of depression, using the BeckDepression Inventory, as well as reappraisal performance, using a standard task of cognitive reappraisal with negative picture stimuli. Statistical analysis indicated no significant effect of depression onreappraisal performance. Previous research has also indicated that depression may be related to attachment style and the ability to mentalize, or take the perspective of another. Therefore, we alsosought to determine whether depression severity was predictive of attachment style, and further,whether attachment style would mediate a relationship between depression and performance on a typeof reappraisal that utilizes mentalizing. However, statistical analysis indicated no significant relationshipbetween depression and reappraisal with mentalizing in this sample. These findings suggest thatdepression may have little impact reappraisal capability, although further research is warranted to verifythis conclusion.

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