Imagery, Valence, and Working Memory in Depression

Master's Thesis


Frequent negative imagery and impoverished positive imagery mark depression, and the presence of intense and intrusive negative imagery predicts suicidality. Given visual imagery’s greater impact on a person’s emotion relative to verbal statements, it is important to understand mechanisms and processes underlying positive and negative mental visual imagery in depression. I examined whether imagery generation, maintenance, vividness, and emotionality were associated with imagery valence and severity of depressive symptoms and whether working memory underlay the relation between imagery and severity of depressive symptoms. To this end, a total of 140 participants completed the modified version of the computerized Image Duration Task and the affective Reading Span Task. Positive imagery was more vivid and longer maintained than negative imagery, reflecting the presence of an adaptive bias in the healthy population. Inconsistent with the hypotheses, however, image generation, maintenance, and vividness did not differ either by the valence or the level of depressive symptoms. Further, maintenance of positive and negative imagery was not associated with inhibition of negative information. Partially consistent with the hypotheses, however, with higher levels of depressive symptoms, positive imagery generated with a concurrent task was significantly less emotionally intense than positive imagery generated alone. Generating less intense positive imagery when also engaged in another task may impede with mood repair techniques and thus help maintain depressed mood.


Attribute NameValues
Author Dahyeon Kim
Contributor Scott Monroe, Committee Member
Contributor K. Lira Yoon, Research Director
Contributor Dave Smith, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2018-02-28

Submission Date 2018-04-08
  • imagery

  • depression

  • valence

  • working memory

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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