Differences in Automatic Social Information Processing Between Nondepressed and Subclinically Depressed Individuals

Authors


  • The authors are grateful to Robert Wyer Jr., Yuichi Shoda, David Ho, Ying-yi Hong, Shui-fong Lam, Alison Lo, Feng Li, Zhi-xue Zhang, and Chung-leung Luk for their constructive comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this article. We also wish to thank Hon-chung Chan, Pak-cheong Chung, May Peng, Jennifer Tong, and Yuk-pui Yau for their assistance with data collection, and Mo-ching Chan for her clerical assistance.

    Preparation of this article was supported by a Research Grants Council (RGC) Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (HKUST6078/99H) and a RGC Direct Allocation Grant (DAG99/00.HSS02) to Cecilia Cheng. Portion of this article was presented at the May 1998 convention of the American Psychological Society, Washington DC.

concerning this article should be addressed to Cecilia Cheng, Division of Social Science, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Electronic mail may be sent to c.cheng@ust.hk.

Abstract

ABSTRACT The present research examined individual differences in automatic social information processing. We hypothesized that because nondepressed and subclinically depressed persons have different interpersonal experiences, they may process social information in different ways. In this experiment, participants were asked to make judgments about social relationships after being reminded of a target person. They had to make these judgments under either a light or a heavy memory load. Results showed that when nondepressed participants were reminded of people with whom they had frequent pleasant interactions, they made a greater number of positive judgments about their social relationships than did subclinically depressed participants. When subclinically depressed participants were reminded of people with whom they had had frequent unpleasant interactions, they made a greater number of negative judgments about their social relationships than did their nondepressed counterparts. Moreover, performance in these experimental conditions was unaffected by memory load, suggesting that automatic thoughts about their social relationships had been evoked.

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