Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with disrupted relationships with partners, family, and peers. These problems can precipitate the onset of clinical illness, influence severity and the prospects for recovery. Here, we investigated whether individuals who have recovered from depression use interpersonal signals to form favourable appraisals of others as social partners. Twenty recovered-depressed adults (with >1 adult episode of MDD but euthymic and medication-free for six months) and 23 healthy, never-depressed adults completed a task in which the gaze direction of some faces reliably cued the location a target (valid faces), whereas other faces cued the opposite location (invalid faces). No participants reported awareness of this contingency, and both groups were significantly faster to categorise targets following valid compared with invalid gaze cueing faces. Following this task, participants judged the trustworthiness of the faces. Whereas the healthy never-depressed participants judged the valid faces to be significantly more trustworthy than the invalid faces; this implicit social appraisal was absent in the recovered-depressed participants. Individuals who have recovered from MDD are able to respond appropriately to joint attention with other people but appear to not use joint attention to form implicit trust appraisals of others as potential social partners.
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Depression, joint attention, social cognition, trustworthiness, Case-Control Studies, Depressive Disorder, Major, Disease Susceptibility, Female, Fixation, Ocular, Humans, Male, Nonverbal Communication, Photic Stimulation, Social Skills