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Involuntary mental imagery is elevated among people with bipolar disorder, and has been shown to shape biases in interpretation of ambiguous information. However, it is not clear whether biases in interpretation of ambiguous scenarios can be observed in those at risk for bipolar disorder, or whether involuntary imagery is related to such a bias.
In the present study, we extended a prominent model of bipolar cognition to an at-risk sample. We specifically tested whether positive interpretation bias and involuntary mental imagery are linked to a greater risk of bipolar disorder.
Young adults (N = 169) completed measures of risk for bipolar disorder (the Hypomanic Personality Scale [HPS]), interpretation bias, and involuntary mental imagery.
Higher scores on the HPS were significantly correlated with more positive interpretations of ambiguous scenarios (β = 0.29, p <. 01) and more frequent involuntary mental imagery (β = 0.22, p < .01). There was no evidence of an interaction between interpretation bias and mental imagery in predicting HPS score, β = .04, p = .62.
Further research is warranted to determine if intrusive imagery or interpretation bias influence the development of bipolar disorder over time in those at risk.
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