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Publication Detail
Computational mechanisms underlying social evaluation learning and associations with depressive symptoms during adolescence
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Bone JK, Pike AC, Lewis G, Lewis G, Blakemore S-J, Roiser JP
  • Publisher:
    PsyArXiv Preprints
  • Publication date:
  • Place of publication:
    Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Notes:
    This is an Open Access paper published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
There is a sharp increase in depression in adolescence, but why this occurs is not well understood. We investigated how adolescents learn about social evaluation and whether learning is associated with depressive symptoms. In a cross-sectional school-based study, 598 adolescents (aged 11-15 years) completed a social evaluation learning task and the short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire. We developed and validated reinforcement learning models, formalising the processes hypothesised to underlie learning about social evaluation. Adolescents started the learning task with a positive expectation that they and others would be liked, and this positive bias was larger for the self than others. Expectations about the self were more resistant to feedback than expectations about others. Only initial expectations were associated with depressive symptoms; adolescents whose expectations were less positive had more severe symptoms. Consistent with cognitive theories, prior beliefs about social evaluation may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms.
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