Intuitive Judgments in Depression and the Role of Processing Fluency and Positive Valence: A Preregistered Replication Study


  • Carina Remmers Orcid
  • Johannes Zimmermann
  • Sascha Topolinski
  • Christoph Richter
  • Thea Zander-Schellenberg
  • Matthias Weiler
  • Christine Knaevelsrud


Background: Recent preliminary evidence indicates that depression is associated with impaired intuitive information processing. The current study aimed at replicating these findings and to move one step further by exploring whether factors known as triggering intuition (positivity, processing fluency) also affect intuition in patients with depression. Method: We pre-registered and tested five hypotheses using data from 35 patients with depression and 35 healthy controls who performed three versions of the Judgment of Semantic Coherence Task (JSCT, Bowers et al., 1990). This task operationalizes intuition as the inexplicable and sudden detection of semantic coherence. Results: Results revealed that depressed patients and healthy controls did not differ in their general intuitive performance (Hypothesis 1). We further found that fluency did not significantly affect depressed patients’ coherence judgments (H2a) and that the assumed effect of fluency on coherence judgments was not moderated by depression (H2b). Finally, we found that triads positive in valence were more likely to be judged as coherent as compared to negative word triads in the depressed sample (H3a), but this influence of positive (vs. negative) valence on coherence judgments did not significantly differ between the two groups (H3b). Conclusion: Overall the current study did not replicate findings from previous research regarding intuitive semantic coherence detection deficits in depression. However, our findings suggest that enhancing positivity in depressed patients may facilitate their ability to see meaning in their environment and to take intuitive decision.