Cognitive Vulnerability


I was listening to Morning Edition yesterday and was intrigued by Shankar Vedantam’s story, Gloomy Thinking Can Be Contagious. The story talks about how the people you see every day, like a college roommate, can effect your outlook on life. Essentially, if you live with a person with a pessimistic worldview, you are more likely to be negative. Cheery people tend to make you more cheerful. I did a bit more digging and read the study done at Notre Dame. To oversimplify the study, Haeffel and Hames found that when a person is in a cognitively vulnerable state, depressive thoughts can be contagious.

I’m fascinated by the idea that depression can be contagious.

I know quite a bit about the hopelessness that descends on a person when they are depressed. Most of the characters I write about are depressed. I spend hours exploring what in their background could have brought on their depression. Have I been barking up the wrong tree? Could mood be influenced by the company they keep? Are they cognitively vulnerable to depression? What do you think about depression being contagious?

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Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious