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A Multi-Method Investigation of Altered Responses to Real-World and Laboratory Prosocial Interactions in Remitted Depression
Interpersonal difficulties are associated with depression, but the nature of interpersonal difficulties in remitted depression remains unclear. This multi-method study compared how 70 undergraduate emerging adults (ages 18-25) with (n=34) or without (n=36) a history of depression responded to different forms of prosocial interpersonal interactions. Participants completed self-report questionnaires of emotional closeness and psychological distress, an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) of interpersonal interactions and affect, and an experimental social regulation of emotion task. Emerging adults with remitted depression seemed to benefit less than those with no history of depression in real-world situations with close others but benefited more in a laboratory task interacting with a stranger. In self-report questionnaires and EMA, emerging adults with no history of depression demonstrated a stronger association between greater emotional closeness and lower psychological distress (in questionnaires) or greater positive affect (in EMA) than those with remitted depression. In contrast, emerging adults with remitted depression demonstrated a stronger benefit (i.e., lower risk estimations of potential negative life events) from the social regulation of emotion (i.e., holding a stranger’s hand while viewing negative images) than those with no history of depression. Possible explanations for differences in responses to real-world versus laboratory prosocial interactions will be discussed.