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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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69. Nonlinearity in associations between affective reactivity and depression among adolescents

Prior research supports competing hypotheses about the link between affective reactivity to daily events and depression. The negative potentiation model suggests depression is related to greater negative affect (NA) reactivity to negative events; the emotional context insensitivity model suggests depression is related to lower NA and positive affect (PA) reactivity to negative and positive events. This study attempts to reconcile these conflicting findings by testing nonlinear associations, cross-sectionally and longitudinally, between affective reactivity and depression.

234 adolescents (Mage=15.92 years) completed interviews, then rated emotions and reported on hassles and uplifts 4x/day for 7 days (T1). Empirical Bayes estimates of individuals’ NA reactivity to hassles and PA reactivity to uplifts were derived using HLM. Major depressive disorder (MDD) severity was coded dimensionally. Interviews were re-administered 1.5 years later (T2). Results show a significant quadratic (β=.21, p=.003), but not linear, relationship between NA reactivity and MDD severity at T1, suggesting depression severity is higher at both extremes of NA reactivity. NA reactivity did not predict changes in T2 MDD severity. PA reactivity was unrelated to MDD severity at T1. A significant quadratic relationship (β=.17, p=.019) emerged between PA reactivity and T2 MDD severity wherein both extremes of PA reactivity were related to increased depression. Results suggest nonlinear associations between affective reactivity and depression among adolescents.

Angela Santee
University of Rochester

Lisa Starr
University of Rochester


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