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Disrupting the Cycle of Negative Thoughts With Computerized Training

People who tend to ruminate — engaging in a cycle of negative, repetitive thoughts — are at risk for depression and other psychological disorders. Is there a way to stop the broken record? Research published in Clinical Psychological Science suggests that computerized cognitive training may be one effective tool.

The study found that a half-hour training session focused on boosting cognitive control could reduce ruminative thoughts triggered by a memory of an unpleasant personal experience.

This is a photo of a woman working on a laptop.Psychology researchers Noga Cohen of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Nilly Mor from Hebrew University, and Avishai Henik from BGU based the study on their previous research, in which they found that activation of cognitive control mechanisms helps to suppress distracting information and reduce the disruptive effects associated with high emotional arousal.

In the new study,…


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The Benefits of Belonging

Julie L. Martin, Duke University, presented her research on “The Benefits of Belonging: State Belonging and Motivation for Social Reconnection Following Rejection” at the 2014 APS Annual Convention in San Francisco. Martin received a 2014 APSSC Student Research Award for this work.

According to the Social Reconnection Hypothesis, social exclusion increases the motivation to forge new social bonds in an effort to restore belonging. While this hypothesis might lead one to think that the desire to affiliate increases in proportion to how much belonging decreases, it is also possible that the desire to avoid further rejection may override social reconnection goals once belonging becomes too low.

In the current study, we experimentally tested this hypothesis by manipulating belonging (low/high belonging prime) and rejection (rejected versus not rejected). Within the no-rejection condition, low-belonging participants showed greater motivation to work with others than high-belonging participants. However, low belonging participants’ desire to work…


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Pinpointing Patient Needs

Rachael Wandrey, with the support of her mentor, Katie E. Mosack, is studying the unique experiences and social support needs of a virtual community of lesbian breast cancer patients. She believes not only that lesbian women experience higher incidence of and mortality from breast cancer than their heterosexual counterparts, but that they also likely experience breast cancer differently from heterosexual women given the context of homophobia and heterosexism.

Data were collected from the lesbian-specific discussion forum found on is a large nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide the latest reliable information about breast cancer, including information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and treatment side effects. The site also hosts discussion boards, blogs, and chat rooms. Currently there are over 141,000 members. Wandrey and Mosack transferred data into NVivo 10 software and analyzed the data using inductive thematic analysis. In total, the researchers…


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“Out, Damned Spot!”: Obsessive-Like Behavior Linked to Specific Type of Guilt

If you’ve ever watched the T.V. show Monk, you know that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by a fixation on certain thoughts and a need to engage in repetitive behaviors, such as excessive hand washing or checking multiple times if a door is locked.

This is a photo of a person washing their hands with soap.

Research has shown that guilt motivates checking behavior by saddling people with feelings of responsibility. For instance, someone who checks a locked door repeatedly fears being held responsible in the case of a break-in. People may also try to alleviate guilt through physical washing, in what researchers refer to as “the Lady Macbeth effect.”

Italian researchers Francesca D’Olimpio and Francesco Mancini wanted to find out if a specific type of guilt is responsible for the kinds of behaviors commonly seen in OCD. They distinguished between two…


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Spirituality May Help Buffer Some New Mothers Against Postpartum Depression

While the birth of a new baby is usually an exciting time for parents, for half a million American mothers each year, childbirth is followed by the onset of postpartum depression (PPD). Along with potential long-term harm to newborns, PPD makes adjustment to life with a new baby more challenging for mothers, who may experience difficulty at work and in relationships.

This is a photo of a mother holding her infant.Previous research suggests that women who are members of racial minority groups are especially at risk for PPD — psychological scientist Alyssa C. D. Cheadle of UCLA and colleagues were interested in finding out whether religiosity and spirituality might help to mitigate the risk of postpartum depression in African American women.

Cheadle and colleagues hypothesized that spirituality and religiosity, both important in the African American community, would each predict decreases in mothers’…


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