Memory for emotional faces in naturally occurring dysphoria and induced sadness

Nathan Ridout, Aliya Noreen, Jaskaran Johal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim was to establish if the memory bias for sad faces, reported in clinically depressed patients (Gilboa-Schechtman, Erhard Weiss, & Jeczemien, 2002; Ridout, Astell, Reid, Glen, & O'Carroll, 2003) generalises to sub-clinical depression (dysphoria) and experimentally induced sadness. Study 1: dysphoric (n = 24) and non-dysphoric (n = 20) participants were presented with facial stimuli, asked to identify the emotion portrayed and then given a recognition memory test for these faces. At encoding, dysphoric participants (DP) exhibited impaired identification of sadness and neutral affect relative to the non-dysphoric group (ND). At memory testing, DP exhibited superior memory for sad faces relative to happy and neutral. They also exhibited enhanced memory for sad faces and impaired memory for happy relative to the ND. Study 2: non-depressed participants underwent a positive (n = 24) or negative (n = 24) mood induction (MI) and were assessed on the same tests as Study 1. At encoding, negative MI participants showed superior identification of sadness, relative to neutral affect and compared to the positive MI group. At memory testing, the negative MI group exhibited enhanced memory for the sad faces relative to happy or neutral and compared to the positive MI group. Conclusion: MCM bias for sad faces generalises from clinical depression to these sub-clinical affective states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-860
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Behaviour research and therapy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Ridout, N, Noreen, A, Johal, J, 'Memory for emotional faces in naturally occurring dysphoria and induced sadness', Behaviour research and therapy, vol 47, no. 10 (2009) DOI


  • mood-congruent memory
  • depression
  • dysphoria
  • mood induction
  • emotional faces


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