Objective: This project was designed to explore the efficacy of two methods of verbal fluency coding procedures in a sample of depressed and non-depressed college students. Troyer et al.'s (1997) coding process examines verbal fluency data in terms of clustering, or grouping words within semantic or letter subcategories and switching, or shifting to a new subcategory. Abwender et al.'s (2001) coding process examines verbal fluency further examines types of clustering and switching (i.e., hard switching, cluster switching, phonemic clustering, semantic clustering). Method: Undergraduate psychology students (n = 186) completed three trials of a letter fluency task (FAS), a semantic fluency task (animals), and a self-report measure of depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression-Revised). Fluency data were coded using the aforementioned coding techniques. Results: Participants who reported depression produced more words on letter fluency than the non-depressed participants (t = −2.38, p = 0.019). This elevated performance was related to a switching advantage (t = −2.65, p = .01), as defined by Troyer et al. (1997), and a hard switching advantage (t = −2.55, p = .01; as defined by Abwender et al., 2001). No other significant differences were found relating to letter or category fluency. Conclusion: These results are contrary to much of the present literature on verbal fluency performance and depression. The elevated hard switching score suggests that depressed participants approach the task by focusing on speeded performance (i.e., hard switching) rather than actively planning (i.e., cluster strategies). The findings are important in the clarification of cognitive styles of people who report depression, such that those with depression may use fewer planning techniques than those without depression.
Verbal Fluency Performance in Depression: An Examination of Clustering and Switching Using Two Coding Styles
E Fields, S Riffel, B Pace, J Tapio, D Abwender; C-32
Verbal Fluency Performance in Depression: An Examination of Clustering and Switching Using Two Coding Styles. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2015; 30 (6): 574-575. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acv047.234
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