Morningness-eveningness and depression: Preliminary evidence for the role of the behavioral activation system and positive affect

Brant P. Hasler, John J.B. Allen, David A. Sbarra, Richard R. Bootzin, Rebecca A. Bernert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


There is considerable evidence of circadian rhythm abnormalities in mood disorders. Morningness-eveningness, the degree to which people prefer organizing their activity and sleep patterns toward the morning or evening, is related to circadian phase and is associated with mood, with relatively greater psychological distress among evening types. Given that circadian rhythms may also relate to the Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and positive affect (PA), but not to the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) or negative affect (NA), it was hypothesized that individual differences in BAS sensitivity and levels of PA, but not BIS and NA, would explain the association between morningness-eveningness and depression in a sample of 208 individuals with a range of depressive symptomatology. As predicted, increasing eveningness was associated with greater depression, lower BAS, and lower PA, but not directly associated with NA. Path analyses supported a model wherein morningness-eveningness is associated with depression via multi-step indirect paths including BAS-Reward Responsiveness, PA, and NA. A path between BIS and depression was distinct from the one involving morningness-eveningness. A variety of alternative path models all provided a weaker fit to the data. Thus, results were consistent with the BAS and PA mediating the effects of morningness-eveningness on depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Circadian rhythms
  • Mood
  • Mood disorders
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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