Liora Lurie

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Two questions were addressed in this research. The first question was whether the effects of depression and elation on memory are symmetric or asymmetric. The second question was which of three depression models is supported by the specific symmetric or asymmetric results. The three depression models compared were: the negative bias model, the depressed realism model, and the positive deficit model. To this end a measure of well-being to complement the Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock & Erbaugh, 1961) was first created. The well-being measure was found to be reliable in Study 1, in a group of 29 university students. The well-being measure was found to be as valid as the BDI in Study 2, in a group of 66 university students, when the Profile of Mood States-Bipolar (POMS-BI);(Lorr, 1982) was used as the validity criterion. Stimuli for the memory task were selected based on ratings reported in Study 3, in which 97 students rated the evaluative level of trait terms, and the similarity in descriptive meaning between pairs of traits. In Study 4, 66 college students were divided into depressed, elated and neutral-mood groups, based on the BDI and the well-being measure. The recognition memory of these people for positive and negative traits they had rated themselves on earlier was measured. The foils in the the recognition task were selected so as to separate evaluative and descriptive features. The false-alarms in the memory task indicated that the different moods had asymmetric effects on recognition performance. Elated people made more false-alarms to foils derived from negative to-be-remembered items than to foils derived from positive to-be-remembered items, whereas the other mood groups made similar false-alarm rates to the two types of information. Between-mood comparisons also indicated some asymmetry. The false-alarms indicated a general positivity bias, this bias was more extreme for the elated group than for the other mood groups. Recognition sensitivity of the TBR-items was not affected by mood, thus limiting the conclusions. These results were discussed as supporting the depressed realism model. The negative bias and positive deficit models were not supported.



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