Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2016 May;14(2):194-202. 10.9758/cpn.2016.14.2.194.

Expected Emotional Usefulness and Emotional Preference in Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder

  • 1Department of Psychology, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Inje University College of Medicine, Gimhae, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Ilsan Paik Hospital, Goyang, Korea.


OBJECTIVE: Previous studies indicate that emotion regulation problems in major depressive disorder (MDD) may be caused by difficulties in preferring useful emotions according to their goals. We investigated expected emotional usefulness and emotional preference in individuals with MDD (MDDs) and healthy controls (HCs).
Participants were given an interpersonal scenario with two different goals (confrontation and collaboration) and rated their willingness to participate in emotion-provoking activities and the expected usefulness of a particular emotion.
MDDs were similar to HCs in expected emotional usefulness but showed different patterns of emotional preference. HCs preferred happiness to negative emotions across goals whereas MDDs did not show such pattern. In addition, HCs displayed goal-appropriate preferences whereas MDDs did not prefer certain emotions for specific goals.
Although MDDs seemed to understand how useful an emotion can be, they did not show preference for goal-appropriate emotions. Interventions should address why MDDs have difficulty engaging in goal-appropriate emotions despite having full knowledge of the utility of emotions in achieving goals.


Depression; Emotions; Emotional aspects; Major depressive disorder
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