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Cognitive and affective features of a personality risk factor for depression and alcoholism Blackwell, Ekin

Abstract

Despite the well-established relationship between depression and alcoholism, the psychological processes that link these two disorders are not well understood. The focus of the current study is on a personality construct called introversion/hopelessness (I/H), which recent research has identified as a potential motivational link between depression and alcoholism (Conrod, Pihl, Stewart, & Dongier, 2000). In this study, high introverted-hopeless (HH) and low introverted-hopeless (LH) individuals were compared on various aspects of cognitive and emotional functioning that were hypothesized to be susceptible to the effects of alcohol. Cognitive measures included the dysfunctional attitudes scale, memory bias for negative selfreferent information as measured by an incidental recall task, and attentional orienting as measured by a cued reaction time task. Emotional reactivity was assessed using a procedure designed to induce transient negative and positive mood states. Cognitive reactivity to induced mood was also assessed. Results revealed that the HH group, compared to the LH group, had stronger baseline dysfunctional attitudes, a more negative self-view, and sadder affect. However, these differences were negligible when depression was covaried out. The HH group also showed preferential recall of negative self-referent information. In exploratory analyses, baseline mood and response times on the attentional orienting task were found to be highly correlated in the HH group, but not the LH group. Contrary to expectations, HH individuals were less reactive to the negative mood induction both at an affective and cognitive level. The observed pattern of findings suggests that avoidance of negatively charged emotional states and a negatively biased cognitive style that is unresponsive to changes in mood are characteristic features of introversion-hopelessness.

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