Negativity Bias as an Indicator of Vulnerability to Emotional Disorders in Adolescents
1Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Although it is well documented that adults are more willing to attend to, learn from and make use of negative information, adolescents’ behavior in this regard is less investigated. This tendency to preferentially process information encoded in negative stimuli (i.e., negativity bias) is known to play a major role in the development and maintenance of emotional disorders, both anxiety and depression being associated with it in adults. The aim of our study is to investigate the negativity bias displayed by adolescents in relation to their cognitive style and emotional symptomatology. Participants aged 13 to 16 years old (N=108) completed a performance-based measure which assessed their ability to learn both positive and negative outcomes associated with novel stimuli, and also filled in self-report measures of emotional symptomatology and cognitive style (YSR - ASEBA, Achenbach, 2001; PANAS-C, Laurent et al., 1999; CATS P/N, Hogendoorn et al., 2010). Poorer learning and greater asymmetry towards the negative stimuli were associated with greater vulnerability for internalizing symptomatology and a negative cognitive style. Even though previous research has identified a strong relation between negative cognitive styles and emotional disorders, the present study indicates that poor learning of positive stimuli might also be a risk factor for the development of emotional disorders.