Award Date


Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Number of Pages



Depression is characterized by low positive emotion and a lack of pleasurable experiences, or anhedonia. Past studies have emphasized controlling negative affect, but there is an emerging trend in the depression literature to focus on positive emotion. The current study employed several psychophysiological tools, postauricular reflex, startle blink reflex, and event-related potential (ERP) components such as P3 and the late positive potential (LPP), to assess the dissociable components in positive emotion (consummatory and anticipatory processes). In addition, several different hypotheses of emotional dysfunction were evaluated to accurately model deficits in positive emotionality. A majority of the psychophysiological tools used supported the low positive emotionality model of depression. Results for the postauricular reflex and P3 amplitude to anticipatory emotional stimuli supported the theory of emotional dysfunction that emphasizes the lower levels of positivity in depression. Findings on LPP supported previous findings that show the measure reflects context insensitivity to emotional stimuli. In addition, the postauricular and startle blink reflex suggested consummatory processes but were not good measures of anticipatory processes. It is important for future studies to assess measures that can index anticipatory components of positive emotion.


Anhedonia; Depression; Mental; Emotions; Mental health; Psychophysiology


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychology