The authors suggest that depressed mood is associated with a defocused mode of attention, allowing irrelevant information to be noticed and processed more than in nondepressed states. Working on a source monitoring task, subclinically depressed college students selected with the Beck Depression Inventory (A. T. Beck, 1967; D. Kammer, 1983) had better memory for irrelevant stimulus aspects than nondepressed control students. However, depressed students' performance on the relevant stimulus aspects was unimpaired. These results are in conflict with a capacity reduction view of depressed mood and support the hypothesized altered, defocused mode, in which attentional resources are more evenly allocated across various aspects of the materials. The results are discussed within the framework of adaptive functions of emotional states.
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