When asked to evaluate their probability of experiencing a negative life event, healthy individuals update their beliefs more following good news than bad. This is referred to as optimistic belief updating. By contrast, individuals with depression update their beliefs by a similar amount, showing reduced optimism. We conducted the first independent replication of this effect and extended this work to examine whether reduced optimistic belief updating in depression also occurs for positive life events. Replicating previous research, healthy and depression groups differed in belief updating for negative events (β = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.24, 1.18). Whereas healthy participants updated their beliefs more following good news than bad, individuals experiencing depression lacked this bias. However, our findings for positive events were inconclusive. While we did not find statistical evidence that patterns of belief updating between groups varied by valence (β = -0.51, 95% CI: -1.16, 0.15), mean update scores suggested that both groups showed largely similar updating for positive life events. Our results add confidence to previous findings that depression is characterized by negative future expectations maintained by reduced updating in response to good news. However, further research is required to understand the specificity of this to negative events, and into refining methods for quantifying belief updating in clinical and non-clinical research.
|Journal||Royal Society Open Science|
|Early online date||2 Feb 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Feb 2022|
- belief updating
- cognitive biases
ASJC Scopus subject areas