Reward devaluation theory (RDT) posits that some depressed individuals avoid positivity due to its previous association with negative outcomes. Behavioral indicators of avoidance of reward support RDT, but self‐report indicators have yet to be examined discriminantly. Two candidate self‐report measures were examined in relation to depression: negative affect interference (NAI), or the experience of negative affect in response to positivity, and fear of happiness, a fear of prospective happiness.
Participants completed measures assessing NAI, fear of happiness scale, and depression online via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk at three time points (N = 375). Multilevel modeling examined the relationship between NAI, fear of happiness, and depressive symptoms longitudinally.
NAI and fear of happiness were both positively associated with depressive symptoms. They both uniquely predicted depressive symptoms when included within the same model.
These findings suggest that different conceptualizations of positivity avoidance are uniquely associated with depressive symptoms.