Response Styles to Positive Affect and Depression: Concurrent and Prospective Associations in a Community Sample.
Nelis S., Holmes EA., Raes F.
We examined the concurrent and prospective relations between response styles to positive affect and depression in a community sample. Participants (n = 345) completed self-report measures of current and past depressive episodes, depressive symptoms, anhedonia, and responses to positive affect (including dampening and positive rumination) at two time points, with a 5-month interval. Higher levels of dampening responses to positive affect were related to higher concurrent levels of depressive symptoms. The tendency to positively ruminate on positive affect was negatively related to concurrent anhedonic symptoms. When controlling for current depressive symptomatology, formerly depressed individuals had a higher tendency to dampen positive affect than never-depressed controls, and did not differ from a currently depressed group. Dampening responses did not predict depressive symptoms prospectively, but lower levels of (self-focused) positive rumination did predict higher levels of future anhedonic symptoms. Results indicate that not only currently but also formerly depressed individuals engage in dysfunctional (dampening) strategies in response to positive affect. It is possible that currently as well as formerly depressed individuals might benefit from interventions that are directed at the remediation of disturbed regulation of positive affect. However, our prospective results make clear that more research is needed to examine the precise conditions under which dampening would be a detrimental (and positive rumination a beneficial) response style in the course of depression.