Negative bias in the perception of others' facial emotional expressions in major depression: the role of depressive rumination.
Raes F., Hermans D., Williams JMG.
Depressed individuals display a negative bias in the perception of others' facial emotional expressions. The extent of this selective processing, moreover, has proven predictive of a poor outcome in depression. However, to date, little is known about the possible mechanisms that may account for this bias. This study examined the hypothesis that rumination--an analytical type of self-focused attention--would be associated with higher levels of perception of negative facial emotions in major depression. Twenty-six depressed patients (17 women) completed the Perception of Facial Expressions Questionnaire, the Ruminative Response Scale, and other measures assessing depression-related constructs. Consistent with prediction, rumination was positively related to a negative bias in the judgment of facial expressions, even when controlling for other depression-related variables. Although the correlational design of the present study limits the extent to which conclusions can be drawn on the directionality of the observed relationship, the present study reveals self-focused rumination as a possibly important causal mechanism in explaining depressed persons' negative bias in the perception of others' facial emotions.