Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Daniel Capron

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Kelsey Bonfils

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Donald Sacco

Committee Member 3 School

Library and Information Science


Individuals consistently tend to underestimate the likelihood of negative events happening to them and fail to update these beliefs adequately when provided with statistical evidence. However, depressed populations are better able to accurately update beliefs. It is not clear if the ability to update beliefs effectively is due to overall dysphoria or are partially due to momentary fluctuations of acute affective states. Undergraduates (N=83) completed a belief updating task where they estimated the likelihood of a negative event happening to them, were presented with the actual likelihood of the event, and then re-estimated the likelihood of the event happening to them. Prior to completing the belief updating task participants were randomized to undergo a neutral or a negative (i.e., sadness) mood induction. After completing the task participants completed the other mood induction and the belief updating task a second time with a second list of events. Whether information was desirable or undesirable (i.e., whether the initial estimate was higher or lower than the actual base rate) had a significant effect on belief updates (F(1, 72) = 22.126, p < .001, η_G^2 = .042). No significant effect was found between acute hopelessness and belief updates. Linear mixed modelling revealed a significant interaction effect of information type and induction on belief updates (β = -4.15, SE = 1.09, p < .001, 95% CI = -6.29, -2.00). Analyses that accounted for intra-individual and trial-by-trial variation indicated that experiencing a sadness mood induction interacted with the type of information received to reduce optimism bias.