The negativity bias predicts response rate to Behavioral Activation for depression

Jackie K. Gollan*, Denada Hoxha, Kallio Hunnicutt-Ferguson, Catherine J. Norris, Laina Rosebrock, Lindsey Sankin, John Cacioppo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives This treatment study investigated the extent to which asymmetric dimensions of affective responding, specifically the positivity offset and the negativity bias, at pretreatment altered the rate of response to Behavioral Activation treatment for depression. Method Forty-one depressed participants were enrolled into 16 weekly sessions of BA. An additional 36 lifetime healthy participants were evaluated prospectively for 16 weeks to compare affective responding between healthy and remitted patients at post-treatment. All participants were assessed at Weeks 0, 8 and 16 using repeated measures, involving a structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders, questionnaires, and a computerized task designed to measure affective responses to unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant images. Results The negativity bias at pre-treatment predicted the rate of response to BA, while the positivity offset did not. Limitations Only one treatment condition was used in this study and untreated depressed participants were not enrolled, limiting our ability to compare the effect of BA. Conclusions Baseline negativity bias may serve as a signal for patients to engage in and benefit from the goal-directed BA strategies, thereby accelerating rate of response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Behavioral activation
  • IAPS
  • Major depression
  • Negativity bias
  • Positivity offset

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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