Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Rempe, M.P. 2018. Internalizing Symptoms and Sleep Habits Predict Individual Differences in Response to Emotional Stimuli. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. October 2018.


Copyright Maggie Rempe 2018.


An individual’s tendency to interpret ambiguity as positive or negative is their valence bias. This valence bias is trait-like and relatively stable across time. Valence bias has been shown to become more positive with age as well as with longer reaction times. Valence bias has been linked to psychologic factors, but research is limited connecting valence bias and other variables, including sleep. The present study aimed to determine the relationship between individual valence bias and other factors that may affect that bias, including sleep habits, internalizing factors, and other psychological factors. Two-hundred twenty-two participants (aged 6-88) rated the valence of images with clear or ambiguous valence and wore an Actigraph to track activity and sleep habits for one week. We found poor sleep efficiency predicted slower reaction times, which then predicted more positive ratings. We also found higher levels of internalizing symptoms and more variable sleep-wake habits to predict more negative valence bias. These show that valence bias may be affected by psychological factors, like internalizing, as well as health habits, like sleep-wake habits.