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Morgan, Sh. Mueller, A. Osth, A. Log In Sign Up. Performance benefits of depression: Sequential decision making in a healthy sample and a clinically depressed sample Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Andreas Wilke. Bettina von Helversen. Gabriele Schmid. Performance benefits of depression: Sequential decision making in a healthy sample and a clinically depressed sample. Whereas some studies reported that depression enhances performance, other studies reported negative or null effects.
These discrepant findings appear to result from task variation, as well as the severity and treatment status of participant depression. To better understand these moderating factors, we study the performance of individuals—in a complex sequential decision task similar to the secretary problem—who are nondepressed, depressed, and recovering from a major depressive episode.
We find that depressed individuals perform better than do nondepressed individuals. This perspec- tive receives support from research showing that depression pro- This article was published Online First April 18, One Basel, Switzerland. Finally, we thank Paul Andrews for his valuable comments. First, depressed individuals seem to Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bettina von process information more systematically and analytically than do Helversen, Department of Psychology, University of Basel, Missionsstrasse 62 a, nondepressed individuals.
This could result from increased nega- Basel, Switzerland. E-mail: bettina. Furthermore, secretary problem. In the secretary problem, an individual attempts Weary and colleagues e. Further exacerbating Second, depression might enhance cognitive performance in the problem, once rejected, applicants cannot be recalled. Strunk and Adler the distribution of candidate quality.
After considering sufficient suggested that this increase in performance results from a candidates, set a threshold equivalent to the best option seen thus pessimistic worldview that leads to a realistic assessment in a task far. Then, choose the next option that exceeds the threshold Fer- where nondepressed individuals misjudge due to a positivity bias. These mechanisms challenge theories holding that depression In many empirical investigations, researchers have examined hinders cognition. However, as the above discussion implies, ev- human decision making in the secretary problem and found that idence supports both lines of reasoning.
Thus, other factors—such the threshold strategy accurately models human behavior. How- as the type of task e. Studies reporting performance increases frequently involved Here we add to this line of inquiry by investigating how depres- participants with subclinical depression e. Sequential , whereas many studies reporting deficits used clinical sam- decision making provides a useful paradigm to understand the ples e.
Thus, if depression impedes cognitive functioning, then levels reducing performance e. On the other hand, if depression promotes a Evidence also suggests that cognitive performance fluctu- realistic assessment of options and systematic processing, then ates with treatment and depressive symptoms. For instance, treat- depressed participants should perform better than nondepressed ment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRI leads to individuals should.
Also, comparisons between recovered patients without medication and healthy participants show that although cognitive We investigated how individuals—who were healthy, de- functioning rebounds after depression, small deficits may remain pressed, and recovering from depression—performed in a sequen- e. This suggests that changes in cognitive tial decision-making task similar to the secretary problem. In so doing, we offer Hospital in Berlin. Of the 37 patients that initially agreed to participate in the study, 27 completed the behavioral tests and questionnaires.
They were community dwelling adults recruited jected. For instance, a rejected partner will lose interest if you from the MPI participant database. The final sample consisted of court others. An employer will select another applicant if you will not sign a contract until hearing back from other firms. In each of 1 Due to technical difficulties with the choice task, we had to exclude 10 these sequential choice tasks, the challenge is when to stop search- participants that initially agreed to participate and filled out questionnaires.
Searching too little means you might never encounter the best The excluded participants did not differ from the included participants in option; searching too much carries the risk of passing over the best terms of severity of depression, days passed since admission, medication, option. The 40 applicants were presented one after another, in males, 18 females and 27 participants at the MPI Mage! After an applicant was presented, participants years, SD! If they accepted the applicant, the game concluded and the next Because the delay between admittance and participation differed game started.
If they rejected the applicant, the next applicant was between participants, we compared PHQ-D scores collected at presented.
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Rejected applicants could not be chosen later in that admission to the PHQ-D scores at test time. Because several game. If a participant did not make a decision before seeing the last participants improved their PHQ-D scores, we split the depressed applicant in a game, he had to accept the final applicant. To ensure sample into two subsamples: one showing a level of depression that they could not learn the distribution of candidate quality, similar to that measured at admission and one showing recovery.
On the basis of the distribution of improvements in the PHQ-D That is, participants only learned how good the current applicant indicating two groups, we assigned participants to the depressed was compared with other applicants seen in the game thus far see sample if their PHQ-D scores had improved by less than 2 points. Figure 1. Performance and payment depended on the absolute This resulted in an approximate median split, with 15 participants rank of the chosen candidate.
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Participants received 40 points for in the depressed sample and 12 participants in the recovered the best, 39 for the second best and so on. After the task, experi- sample.
The recovery group had been admitted slightly— but not menters exchanged points for Euros at a rate of points! Before each game, experimenters asked participants to 1. No significant differences in medication existed between the recovery and the depressed group BDI. Participation lasted about 45 min, and participants tzinger et al. Per- exact payment depended on performance.
The depression computer-based experiment Czienskowski, At the MPI, participants filled out the screening depression e. Participants with BDI at the end of the testing session. Reliability in our completed at admission. Healthy n! German version of the Patient Health Questionnaire. Finding performance outliers see Figure 2, Panel A , we repeated the analysis, excluding participants earning less than 25 points; these subsequent analyses yielded similar results. However, we interpret this with caution because within groups, correlations between BDI and search, or performance, were non- significant.