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The autocorrelation or inertia of negative affect reflects how much negative emotions carry over from moment to moment and has been associated with increased depressive symptoms. In this study, we posed three challenges to this association by examining: (1) whether emotional inertia is relevant for depressive symptoms when assessed on a longer timescale than usual; (2) whether inertia is uniquely related to depressive symptoms after controlling for perseverative thoughts; and (3) whether inertia is related to depressive symptoms over and above the within-person association between affect and perseverative thoughts. Participants (N = 101) provided ratings of affect and perseverative thoughts for 100 days; depressive symptoms were reported before and after the study, and again after 2.5 years. Day-to-day emotional inertia was related to depressive symptoms over and above trait and state perseverative thoughts. Moreover, inertia predicted depressive symptoms when adjusting for its association with perseverative thoughts. These findings establish the relevance of emotional inertia in depressive symptoms independent of perseverative thoughts.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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