3 April 2024: Ecological drivers of emotion and their links to individual differences in depression

Aaron Heller
Department of Psychology
University of Miami

The specific way emotions ebb and flow in life differentiate someone who has depression from someone who do not. Given such a central role for emotion in well-being and psychopathology, it is critical that we understand what causes emotion in everyday life and whether these emotional causes tell us anything about mental health. It is especially important to understand what causes real-world emotion because to be able change emotion we need to understand what drives it in the first place. Using a combination of mobile tracking, experience sampling, and functional neuroimaging methods, I will present studies addressing the role that deviations from expectations play in driving naturalistic emotion, that deviations from expectations drive emotion differently in people who are depressed from those who are not, and that deviations from expectations are learning signals that help explain how individuals may develop mental health difficulties. This work suggests that how we form, update, and respond to real-world expectations play a key role in promoting well-being as well as preventing psychopathology.  

View a recording of this session here.