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Mechanisms of intuitive information processing in patients with depression (MINT)

To judge or decide intuitively means to know or sense something "from the gut" without being able to explicitly name the the reasons for it (i.e. knowing without knowing how one knows). The underlying processes are based on experience, run quickly and unconsciously, and enable the effortless integration of many relevant aspects into a coherent whole. For example, people are usually able to intuitively detect semantic coherence (e.g., deep salt spray; common denominator: sea) and distinguish it from incoherence (dream ball book; no common denominator). People succeed in doing this quickly and accurately above chance-level through unconscious integration processes, even if an explicit insight into what this knowledge or feeling is based on does not (yet) exist. While "normally", and especially during positive mood states, such vague - intuitive - phenomena guide human thinking, decision making and action, making decisions is difficult in a state of depression - then nothing really feels right. In depression a narrow, brooding way of thinking is typical that seems to be opposed to an intuitive-integrating way of thinking. Thus, the question arises whether people are less intuitive during depression? The assumption that intuitive information processes are impaired during depression has already been empirically supported in a set of preliminary studies. In this project, these the replicability of these findings is investigated as well as the underlying mechanisms of potential impairments in intuitive information processes. For this, cognitive-affective correlates of intuitive judgments of semantic coherence known from basic research (e.g. processing fluency, positive affect) are manipulated experimentally in the laboratory. It will be explored whether and how these factors also influence depressed patients' intuitive judgments as compared to healthy control participants.


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Remmers, C., Topolinski, S., Buxton, A., Dietrich, D. E., & Michalak, J. (2016). The beneficial and detrimental effects of major depression on intuitive decision-making. Cognition and Emotion, 1-7. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2016.1154817 

Remmers, C., & Michalak, J. (2016). Losing Your Gut Feelings. Intuition in Depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1291. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01291

Remmers, C.,Topolinski, S., Dietrich, D. E., & Michalak, J. (2015). Impaired intuition in patients with major depressive disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54(2), 200-213. doi:10.1111/bjc.12069