Depression is associated with an increase in observer (third person) visual perspective for positive autobiographical memories. However, it is unclear if this relationship 1) is present in young adults at high familial risk of depression; 2) is a general bias that extends to future imagined events; and 3) is independent of general cognition and other cognitive biases known to be associated with depression such as reduced autobiographical specificity. We examined the association of observer perspective, valence (positive, negative, neutral) and temporality (past memories, future imagined events) with depressive symptoms in a group at high familial risk for depression (n=29). Increased use of the observer perspective for memories was associated with a dimensional measure of depressive symptoms, and this association remained following adjustment for IQ and reduced autobiographical specificity. There was weak evidence that increased use of the observer perspective for future events was associated with a diagnostic measure of depressive symptoms, but limited evidence that interactions between perspective and valence were associated with depressive symptoms. Results indicate that higher levels of depressive symptoms are associated with an observer perspective bias in autobiographical thinking, including autobiographical memory and future imagined events regardless of valence.
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© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- observer perspective
- autobiographical memory
- episodic future thinking