A1 Journal article (refereed)
Attentional bias towards interpersonal aggression in depression : an eye movement study (2021)

Rantanen, M., Hautala, J., Loberg, O., Nuorva, J., Hietanen, J. K., Nummenmaa, L., & Astikainen, P. (2021). Attentional bias towards interpersonal aggression in depression : an eye movement study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 62(5), 639-647. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12735

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Rantanen, Matti; Hautala, Jarkko; Loberg, Otto; Nuorva, Jaakko; Hietanen, Jari K.; Nummenmaa, Lauri; Astikainen, Piia

Journal or series: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

ISSN: 0036-5564

eISSN: 1467-9450

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 62

Issue number: 5

Pages range: 639-647

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12735

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/75702


Depressed individuals exhibit an attentional bias towards mood-congruent stimuli, yet evidence for biased processing of threat-related information in human interaction remains scarce. Here, we tested whether an attentional bias towards interpersonally aggressive pictures over interpersonally neutral pictures could be observed to a greater extent in depressed participants than in control participants. Eye movements were recorded while the participants freely viewed visually matched interpersonally aggressive and neutral pictures, which were presented in pairs. Across the groups, participants spent more time looking at neutral pictures than at aggressive pictures, probably reflecting avoidance behaviour. When the participants could anticipate the stimulus valence, depressed participants – but not controls – showed an early attentional bias towards interpersonally aggressive pictures, as indexed by their longer first fixation durations on aggressive pictures than on neutral pictures. Our results thus preliminarily suggest both an early attentional bias towards interpersonal aggression, which is present, in depressed participants, also when aggression contents are anticipated, and a later attentional avoidance of aggression. The early depression-related bias in information processing may have maladaptive effects on the way depressed individuals perceive and function in social interaction and can therefore maintain depressed mood.

Keywords: depression (mental disorders); mood; social interaction; attention; stimuli (role related to effect); emotions; aggressiveness; eye tracking; eye movements; cognitive psychology; cognitive biases

Free keywords: avoidance behavior; cognitive hypersensitivity; eye tracking; social risk hypothesis; unipolar depression

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-14-09 at 12:01