Meeting risk with resilience: high daily life reward experience preserves mental health

N. Geschwind*, F. Peeters, N. Jacobs, P. Delespaul, C. Derom, E. Thiery, J. van Os, M. Wichers

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To examine prospectively whether high reward experience (the ability to generate positive affect boosts from pleasurable daily events) protects against affective symptoms and whether environmental or genetic risk factors moderate protective effects. Method: At baseline, 498 female twins participated in an experience sampling study measuring reward experience in daily life. They also completed questionnaires on childhood adversity and recent stressful life events (SLE). Affective symptoms were measured at baseline and at four follow-ups using SCL-90 anxiety and depression subscales. Co-twin affective symptoms were used as indicators of genetic risk. Results: Baseline reward experience did not predict follow-up affective symptoms, regardless of level of genetic risk. However, high reward experience was associated with reduced future affective symptoms after previous exposure to childhood adversity or recent SLE. Conclusion: High daily life reward experience increases resilience after environmental adversity; modification of reward experience may constitute a novel area of therapeutic intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-138
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • affective symptoms
  • resilience
  • psychological
  • risk factors
  • longitudinal studies
  • twin study

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