About the lab

The Affective Science Lab at Bard College uses clinical research methods to identify the factors behind mood disorders. The lab asks questions about how people who are depressed describe themselves—and how to make self-description more positive. In past work, we have found that adults with low mood will learn to describe themselves more positively after imagining future positive social situations. Work in the lab uses samples of adults, online and in person, across the range of depressive symptoms.

Recent Publications

(2019). Effect of cognitive bias modification-memory on depressive symptoms and autobiographical memory bias: Two independent studies in high-ruminating and dysphoric samples. Cognition and Emotion, 33, 288–304.


(2019). Association between negative cognitive bias and depression: A symptom-level approach. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(3), 212–227.

 DOI  Preprint Data

(2018). Positive imagery training increases positive self-referent cognition in depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 111, 72–83.

 DOI  Preprint Data

(2018). Determining optimal parameters of the Self Referent Encoding Task: A large-scale examination of self-referent cognition and depression. Psychological Assessment, 30, 1527–1540.

 DOI  Preprint  Pubmed Data  GitHub  Shiny

(2018). Negative self-referential processing is associated with genetic variation in the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR): Evidence from two independent studies. PLOS ONE, 13(6): e0198950.

 DOI  Preprint Data

(2018). Specificity and overlap of attention and memory biases in depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 404–412.


(2017). Sustained attentional engagement is associated with increased negative self-referent decision-making in major depressive disorder. Biological Psychology, 129, 231–241.


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(Submitted). Depressive and anxiety symptoms don't reduce willingness to engage in social rejection—But general distress makes rejection feel more difficult.

 Preprint Data

(Submitted). Psychological networks can identify potential pathways to specific intervention targets for anxiety in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).


Join the lab

Bard students who want to conduct research may inquire about joining the lab by emailing Professor Dainer-Best. Some research continues to take place during this time of social distance. However, recruitment for research assistants may vary by semester. Research assistants work on research projects: recruiting participants, collecting data, developing new studies, and helping to present research. Applicants will be preferred who have an interest or background in psychology research, computer programming, and software development. No prior research experience is required, and students from any background with an interest in clinical or affective science are encouraged to apply.

Inclusivity and Equity

The Affective Science Lab is commited to providing a space for students of all backgrounds to learn as researchers. It is likewise committed to providing a safe experience for research participants. As a research advisor, Professor Dainer-Best supports an inclusive environment for Bard College students in the lab. The lab devotes its resources towards ensuring adequate representation of research participants (beyond so-called WEIRD samples) and encourages applicants from backgrounds that are under-represented in psychology to apply to be research assistants. Such contributions can make Bard a richer and more vibrant environment, and continue to improve psychological science.


Bard College students may be able to participate in an Affective Science Lab study for participation credit. Interested students should sign up on the Bard Psych Research website.