The Moderating Effect of Depression Symptoms on the Concordance Between the Experience and Verbal Disclosure of Emotion

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Within-person studies of emotional disclosure have found evidence of a disclosure-discordance effect of depression, whereby the positive association between the intensity of one’s emotional experience and verbal disclosure of that experience weakens with increasing depression symptoms. Because these previous studies have exclusively been naturalistic ones, we examined the disclosure-discordance effect of depression in the lab. Participants (N = 115) completed a measure of depression symptoms and viewed a series of emotionally evocative photographs. Emotion-expressive behavior while viewing each photograph was rated by judges, subjective emotional experience was assessed via self-report, and emotional disclosure just after the photograph was viewed was rated by different judges. Multilevel analyses indicated that depression symptoms moderated the association between the behavioral (i.e., facial) expression of emotion intensity and disclosure of emotion. Moderation was not supported in analyses with self-reported emotional intensity as a predictor. These findings partly supported the disclosure-discordance effect, and they inform methods of empirically examining the effect of depression symptoms on the verbal disclosure of emotion.


This article was originally published as Kahn, J. H., Lawell, K. J., Allen, A., Henning, J., Heidenreich, B. A., Cox, D. W., Williams, E., Ladd, K., Samlow, B. N., Hamlet, A. N., & Woodrum, J. L. (2021). The moderating effect of depression symptoms on the concordance between the experience and verbal disclosure of emotion. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 43(2), 293–302.