Impaired intuition in patients with major depressive disorder.

Research paper by Carina C Remmers, Sascha S Topolinski, Detlef E DE Dietrich, Johannes J Michalak

Indexed on: 14 Oct '14Published on: 14 Oct '14Published in: British Journal of Clinical Psychology


In daily life, many decisions of minor and major importance have to be made. Thereby, intuitive judgments serve as useful guides and help us to adapt to our environment. People with major depressive disorder (MDD) often have difficulties to come to decisions. Is their intuition impaired? Since this question has not been addressed until now, the present study explored intuition in MDD.Depressed patients (n = 29) and healthy control participants (n = 27) completed the Judgment of Semantic Coherence Task, a well-established paradigm used in basic cognitive research to measure intuition. Furthermore, participants' severity of depressive symptoms (BDI-II), negative affect (PANAS), and rumination (RSQ) were assessed. All participants were interviewed with the SCID.Depressed patients showed impaired intuition compared to healthy control participants. In the depressed sample, negative affect accounts for the association between rumination and impaired intuition. Results further reveal that negative affect overall mediates the depression-intuition relationship. Patients with diminished ability to concentrate or indecisiveness had lower intuition indices compared to patients who did not fulfil this diagnostic criterion of MDD.The study introduces the phenomenon of intuition into depression research. Additionally, these results extent findings from basic research showing that induced negative mood as well difficulties to down-regulate negative affect impair intuitive coherence judgments. Current results indicate that the negative affectivity of patients is the crucial mediator in the association between depression and impaired intuition. Limitations of the study as well as the potential etiological role of intuition in MDD are discussed.The finding that intuition is impaired in depressed patients extends our knowledge as to the cognitive profile of patients with MDD. Patients who suffer from indecisiveness have lower intuition indices compared to patients who do not fulfill this diagnostic criterion of MDD. Due to the cross-sectional design, final conclusions as to the etiological role of intuition in MDD cannot be drawn. The question remains open whether impaired intuition is specific to MDD.