New Research from Clinical Psychological Science

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Read about the latest research in Clinical Psychological Science:

Impaired Decision Making in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Deficit of Cognitive Strategy Selection?

Pascal Hot, Kylee T. Ramdeen, Céline Borg, Thierry Bollon, and Pascal Couturier

People with Alzheimer’s disease often have trouble choosing the best decision-making strategy. Could uncertainty about their problem-solving abilities lead people with Alzheimer’s to adopt poor decision-making strategies? Participants with and without Alzheimer’s watched a film clip meant to induce a positive or a neutral emotional state and then completed the Iowa Gambling Task. Participants who watched the positive film clip performed better on the task and reported having lower levels of uncertainty than did Alzheimer’s patients who watched the neutral clip. The authors suggest that emotional manipulation could be used to increase certainty in people with Alzheimer’s and improve their approach to decision making.

Recent and Frequent Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Is Associated With Diminished Implicit and Explicit Aversion Toward Self-Cutting Stimuli

Joseph C. Franklin, Kent M. Lee, Megan E. Puzia, and Mitchell J. Prinstein

The authors hypothesized that people who engage in self-injurious behaviors may have a reduced aversion to injury-related stimuli, such as blood or wounds. Participants who had or had not engaged in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) completed measures of emotional regulation and reactivity, as well as measures of implicit and explicit affect related to NSSI stimuli. In support of the authors’ hypothesis, participants who had engaged in NSSI displayed more positive affect toward NSSI stimuli than did participants who had not engaged in NSSI.

Avoided by Association: Acquisition, Extinction, and Renewal of Avoidance Tendencies Toward Conditioned Fear Stimuli

Angelos-Miltiadis Krypotos, Marieke Effting, Inna Arnaudova, Merel Kindt, and Tom Beckers

Researchers have long believed that avoidance learning requires both Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning. Krypotos and colleagues examined whether avoidance learning can be brought about by Pavlovian learning alone. Participants completed a computer task in which certain pictures were paired with a mild electric shock. They then completed an approach/avoid reaction-time task using the same stimuli. Participants were faster to avoid pictures that had been paired with a shock and faster to approach pictures that had not been paired with a shock, which showed that avoidance tendencies can be elicited by mere Pavlovian learning.

The Nature, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Neuroticism: Back to the Future

David H. Barlow, Shannon Sauer-Zavala, Jenna R. Carl, Jacqueline R. Bullis, and Kristen K. Ellard

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists several categories of emotional disorders; however, Barlow and colleagues argue that the diagnostic reliability provided by a categorical system may come at the expense of diagnostic validity. They suggest that a higher-order temperamental factor of neuroticism may be a more appropriate way to conceptualize emotional disorders. The authors review commonalities among emotional disorders, describe the role of neuroticism in the structure of emotional disorders, and present research examining the effect of intervention on the prevention and treatment of neuroticism.