Increased affective reactivity among depressed individuals can be explained by floor effects: An experience sampling study

Lino von Klipstein*, Michelle N. Servaas, Femke Lamers, Robert A. Schoevers, Klaas J. Wardenaar, Harriëtte Riese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Experience sampling studies into daily-life affective reactivity indicate that depressed individuals react more strongly to both positive and negative stimuli than non-depressed individuals, particularly on negative affect (NA). Given the different mean levels of both positive affect (PA) and NA between patients and controls, such findings may be influenced by floor/ceiling effects, leading to violations of the normality and homoscedasticity assumptions underlying the used statistical models. Affect distributions in prior studies suggest that this may have particularly influenced NA-reactivity findings. Here, we investigated the influence of floor/ceiling effects on the observed PA- and NA-reactivity to both positive and negative events. Data came from 346 depressed, non-depressed, and remitted participants from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). In PA-reactivity analyses, no floor/ceiling effects and assumption violations were observed, and PA-reactivity to positive events, but not negative events, was significantly increased in the depressed and remitted groups versus the non-depressed group. However, NA-scores exhibited a floor effect in the non-depressed group and naively estimated models violated model assumptions. When these violations were accounted for in subsequent analyses, group differences in NA-reactivity that had been present in the naive models were no longer observed. In conclusion, we found increased PA-reactivity to positive events but no evidence of increased NA-reactivity in depressed individuals when accounting for violations of assumptions. The results indicate that affective-reactivity results are very sensitive to modeling choices and that previously observed increased NA-reactivity in depressed individuals may (partially) reflect unaddressed assumption violations resulting from floor effects in NA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-381
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

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