Detecting and learning the location of unpleasant or pleasant scenarios, or spatial affect learning, is an essential skill that safeguards well-being (Crawford & Cacioppo, 2002). Potentially altered by psychiatric illness, this skill has yet to be measured in adults with and without major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders (AD). This study enrolled 199 adults diagnosed with MDD and AD (n=53), MDD (n=47), AD (n=54), and no disorders (n=45). Measures included clinical interviews, self-reports, and a validated spatial affect task using affective pictures (IAPS; Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 2005). Participants with MDD showed impaired spatial affect learning of negative stimuli and irrelevant learning of pleasant pictures compared with non-depressed adults. Adults with MDD may use a "GOOD is UP" heuristic reflected by their impaired learning of the opposite correlation (i.e., "BAD is UP") and performance in the pleasant version of the task.
- Anxiety disorder
- Major depression
- Spatial affect learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)