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Abstract

The associative network theory of emotion and memory, outlined by Bower (1981), predicts that depressed mood leads to biases which favour the perception of mood-congruent information. In this study, a lexical decision task was used to assess the effects of degree of depression and induced elation and depression on lexical decision times for positive and negative words. Subsequently, subjects were given a recall test for the words presented during the lexical decision task. The results partially offered support for perceptual bias. The data showed that in non-depressed and elation-induced subjects, decision times were differentially affected by hedonic tone. Words of positive nature were responded to significantly faster than were negative words. In mildly depressed and depression-induced, decision times were similar for both types of words (positive and negative). These findings are discussed in relation to the associative network model and a growing amount of empirical research on human emotion and cognition.