Scientific article
Open access

Appraisal Bias and Emotion Dispositions Are Risk Factors for Depression and Generalized Anxiety: Empirical Evidence

Published inFrontiers in psychology, vol. 13, 857419
Publication date2022-07-04
First online date2022-07-04

Appraisal theory of emotion predicts that appraisal biases may generate stable emotion dispositions, which can ultimately lead to affective disorders. One example is the habitual underestimation of one’s potential to cope with adverse events, which favors frequent experiences of sadness and worry and therefore increases the risk for development of depression and generalized anxiety disorders. To examine the relationships between these variables as potential risk factors, in Study 1, we used appraisal and emotion questions in the Swiss Household Panel (SHP), a nationwide representative sample, and analyzed data for N  = 4,859 participants in one annual survey wave (Wave 14, SHP 2012) via theory-based hierarchical regressions. Path analysis of the nomological network linking frequent experiences of depression and anxiety to the emotion dispositions of sadness and worry, and measures of perceived coping potential (appraisal bias) supports the theoretical predictions and further identifies the effects of important background variables such as personality, motivation, and life events. Discriminant analysis shows that these predictors allow correct classification of close to 70% of the participants with elevated risk. In Study 2, we used established validated instruments to assess the risk for depression and anxiety disorders, as well as a recently validated scenario method to assess appraisal bias and emotion disposition in a survey with N = 152 students. The results correspond to the theoretical predictions and largely confirm the findings with the household survey. The results of both studies demonstrate the utility of using current emotion theory to provide new vistas for research on risk factors for affective disorders and to inform the development of appropriate interventions to reduce the level of risk.

  • Appraisal bias
  • Coping potential
  • Emotion disposition
  • Risk for depression
  • Survey data
Citation (ISO format)
SCHERER, Klaus R. et al. Appraisal Bias and Emotion Dispositions Are Risk Factors for Depression and Generalized Anxiety: Empirical Evidence. In: Frontiers in psychology, 2022, vol. 13, p. 857419. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.857419
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1664-1078

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