Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Professor Laura Holt

Second Advisor

Professor Elizabeth Casserly


Given the reciprocal influence of biased cognition and depression on the development of depressive symptoms, this study used affective facial images to elicit corresponding negative emotions among college students with different depression and cognitive vulnerability levels to investigate the impact of negative emotions on positive, neutral, and negative word recognition. Students (N = 20) from a liberal arts college were asked to complete two self-reports to assess their level of depression and cognitive vulnerability. Participants completed two affective word recognition tasks, between which affective facial images were presented to elicit negative moods. The findings suggest that emotions had an impact on individuals’ learning and memory retrieval capacity. Negative mood elicited by affective cues likely functioned as a cognitive cue for participants to encode and recognize negative words, leading to their higher improvement in negative word recognition accuracy after the manipulation (F (2,36) = 7.56, p = .01, ηp2 = .30). Although participants’ word recognition accuracy did not appear to differ based on depression status, it may be influential in determining participants’ level of sensitivity to positive stimuli, as it may interfere with the less depressed individuals’ performance in positive-word retrieval.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology.