Depression is associated with negativity in TAT narratives: The mediating role of agency

Minjoo Joo, Sun W. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although it is well established that depressed individuals have a tendency to interpret ambiguous stimuli in a negative manner, previous studies have rarely applied narrative analysis to investigate this relation. Our purpose for the present study was to extend the literature by examining whether individuals with depressive symptoms generate negatively distorted narratives when taking the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). We focused on emotional tone and agentic theme in fictional narratives to investigate (1) whether depression is related to the emotional tone of the narrative, and (2) whether agency emerging in narratives mediates the relation between depression and emotional tone. Participants wrote fictional stories in response to three different TAT cards. Two independent sets of three coders coded narratives for emotional tone and agentic theme, respectively. As expected, depression was positively related to the negative emotional tone, and this relation was mediated by the lack of agentic themes in the narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3065-3072
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Agency
  • Depression
  • Emotional tone
  • Narrative
  • Thematic Apperception Test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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