Performance of depressive and healthy participants on affective priming task using word pronunciation

Steffen Moritz*, Peter Graf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The present study attempted to shed further light on processing biases for emotional material in depression using the affective priming procedure. Methods: Affective priming and affective s emantic priming was investigated in 23 healthy and 22 depressed participants using a word pronunciation task. Results: Significant affective priming emerged, whi ch, however, did not interact with group membership. Affective priming for congruent pairs was equally strong for pairs with and without shared semantic meaning. However, reaction times were shorter for incongruent pairs that were semantically related than for incongruent pairs without semantic overlap. Older age was associated with enhanced affective priming. Conclusions: It is assumed that affective priming effects in the word pronunciation task are mediated by two routes of spreading activation: a semantic and an affective route. We believe the failure to find differences between our subject group is mainly attributed to affective interference effects. It seems likely that patients with depression ruminate on the affective properties of the target and doing so may counteract a heightened accessibility of mood-congruent material. We speculate that the robustness of word pronunciation in the present affective priming task (22 ms) is partly attributable to context factors, which have likely increased the emotional salience of the affective material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalGerman Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective priming
  • Depression
  • Priming
  • Semantic network


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