A recent randomized control study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology was performed to determine if increasing concreteness in the thinking of dysphoric individuals would affect depressive symptoms.
Previous research had shown that a cognitive bias to process self-relevant information in an abstract and overgeneralized manner is related to the onset and maintenance of depression and depressive symptoms. Individuals with this cognitive bias have been labeled as dysphoric individuals.
The current study examined dysphoric individuals to determine whether concreteness training (CNT) would help decrease their cognitive biases and therefore decrease depressive symptoms. The study controlled for the level of depression and all subjects scored at least in the category of mild depressive symptoms at the beginning of treatment. Twenty-one men and 39 women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group received CNT, the second group received bogus concreteness training (BGT), and the third group was a waitlist (WL) control condition that received no treatment. Participants received the specific treatment every day for seven days. At the end of the week, participants were again assessed for depression level and symptoms. Results indicated that CNT showed a trend toward a greater decrease in depressive symptoms than BGT or WL.
Study Authors: E. R. Watkins, C. B. Baeyens, R. Read