Cognition and Emotion
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Depressed individuals exhibit memory biases on the self-referent encoding task (SRET), such that those with depression exhibit poorer recall of positive, and enhanced recall of negative, trait adjectives (referred to as positive and negative processing biases). However, it is unclear when SRET biases emerge, whether they are stable, and if biases predict, or are predicted by, depressive symptoms. To address this, a community sample of 434 children completed the SRET and a depressive symptoms measure at ages 6 and 9. Negative and positive processing exhibited low, but significant, stability. At ages 6 and 9, depressive symptoms correlated with higher negative, and lower positive, SRET processing. Importantly, lower positive processing at age 6 predicted increased symptoms at age 9. However, negative processing at age 6 did not predict depressive symptoms at age 9, and depressive symptoms at age 6 did not predict SRET processing scores at age 9. This suggests that less positive processing may reflect vulnerability for future depressive symptoms.