Dr. Young's LabBen-Zeev. D., Young, M.A, Madsen, J. (in press, 2009). Retrospective recall of affect in depressed individuals and controls. Cognition and Emotion.
The current study examined the nature of retrospective recall of affect in depressed participants and nonclinical controls. Utilizing the Experience Sampling Method, we compared average momentary affect reports to retrospective estimates. Both groups exhibited exaggerated retrospective estimates of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA). Greater bias for PA than NA was found in the controls. Across groups, depressed individuals exhibited more absolute inaccuracy in their recall of NA but not PA. For depressed and nonclinical individuals, retrospective estimates of PA were better predicted by an average of all weekly momentary PA than a combination of the most intense (“peak”) PA and most recent (“end”) PA experiences. For nonclinical participants, retrospective NA was better predicted by an average of all weekly momentary NA. For depressed individuals however, no clear advantage to predicting retrospective NA by average weekly NA relative to a combination of peak NA and end NA was found. Based on our findings, clinicians should realize that depressive cognition may not lie in recall that is less positive and more negative than “reality” but in retrospective intensifications of all affect that are, compared to normal, relatively greater for negative than for positive affect.