Mediating effect of environmental rewards on the relation between goal-directed behaviour and anhedonia

  • Shuntaro AokiEmail author
  • Satomi Doi
  • Satoshi Horiuchi
  • Koki Takagaki
  • Asaka Kawamura
  • Reiji Umeno
  • Masahiko Fujita
  • Nobuki Kitagawa
  • Yuji Sakano


Depression can be explained by certain behavioural patterns, especially low levels of environmental rewards; it is generally accompanied by infrequent goal-directed behaviour, increased depressed mood, and anhedonia. However, no research has statistically examined the mediating effect of environmental rewards on the relation between goal-directed behaviour and the symptoms of depressed mood or anhedonia. This study sought to determine whether such a mediating effect of environmental rewards is present in cross-sectional study. The participants included 101 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorders. Data were collected through three questionnaires measuring depression and behavioural patterns that maintain depression: the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Environmental Reward Observation Scale (EROS), and the Behavioral Activation for Depression Scale—Short Form (BADS-SF). Mediation analysis was conducted using depressed mood and anhedonia as dependent variables, environmental rewards as the mediating variable, and goal-directed behaviour as the independent variable. Environmental rewards significantly mediated the relationship between goal-directed behaviour and anhedonia but not that between goal-directed behaviour and depressed mood. No significant relationships were found among depressed mood, goal-directed behaviour and environmental rewards. From these results, we conclude that low levels of environmental rewards accompanied by infrequent goal-directed behaviour can lead to increased anhedonia but not depressed mood.


Depression Behavioural theory of depression Depressed mood Anhedonia Environmental rewards 



This work was supported in part by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI Grant Number JP 16 J11293.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed Consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Medical Education and Career DevelopmentFukushima Medical UniversityFukushimaJapan
  2. 2.Department of NeuropsychiatryFukushima Medical UniversityFukushimaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Global Health PromotionTokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU)TokyoJapan
  4. 4.Faculty of Social WelfareIwate Prefectural UniversityIwateJapan
  5. 5.Health Service CenterHiroshima UniversityHiroshima CityJapan
  6. 6.School of Psychological ScienceHealth Sciences University of HokkaidoSapporoJapan
  7. 7.Oita Prefectural Board of EducationOitaJapan
  8. 8.Wellness Boyo HospitalOtaruJapan
  9. 9.Hokudai-dori Mental Health ClinicSapporoJapan

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