Gaze behavior predicts memory bias for angry facial expressions in stable dysphoria.Emotion. 2010 Dec; 10(6):894-902.E
Interpersonal theories suggest that depressed individuals are sensitive to signs of interpersonal rejection, such as angry facial expressions. The present study examined memory bias for happy, sad, angry, and neutral facial expressions in stably dysphoric and stably nondysphoric young adults. Participants' gaze behavior (i.e., fixation duration, number of fixations, and distance between fixations) while viewing these facial expressions was also assessed. Using signal detection analyses, the dysphoric group had better accuracy on a surprise recognition task for angry faces than the nondysphoric group. Further, mediation analyses indicated that greater breadth of attentional focus (i.e., distance between fixations) accounted for enhanced recall of angry faces among the dysphoric group. There were no differences between dysphoria groups in gaze behavior or memory for sad, happy, or neutral facial expressions. Findings from this study identify a specific cognitive mechanism (i.e., breadth of attentional focus) that accounts for biased recall of angry facial expressions in dysphoria. This work also highlights the potential for integrating cognitive and interpersonal theories of depression.