New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

Distress, Worry, and Functioning Following a Global Health Crisis: A National Study of Americans’ Responses to Ebola

Rebecca R. Thompson, Dana Rose Garfin, E. Alison Holman, and Roxane Cohen Silver

The 2014 West African Ebola outbreak was followed closely by many people in the United States. In this study, the researchers examined Americans’ responses to this health crisis by collecting data from participants who had previously taken part in a study about their reactions to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing (BMB). The researchers collected data about the participants’ television viewing habits, acute stress response to the BMB, exposure to Ebola-related media, psychological distress, functional impairment, and Ebola-related worry. The researchers found that Ebola-related media exposure, acute stress response to the BMB, and having a history of a mental-health diagnosis were all associated with greater psychological distress and functional impairment in response to the Ebola health crisis.

When a Bad Bias Can Be Good: Anxiety-Linked Attentional Bias to Threat in Contexts Where Dangers Can Be Avoided

Lies Notebaert, Madison Tilbrook, Patrick J. F. Clarke, and Colin MacLeod

Although attention bias to threat (i.e., the tendency to attend to threatening rather than neutral stimuli) has been shown to be associated with anxiety, this attention style may be beneficial in some situations (e.g., when one can identify and avoid threats). Despite this, no study has examined differences in attention bias to threat in situations in which threat can be mitigated. To examine this, the researchers asked participants with high or low levels of anxiety to complete an attention-bias assessment task. Participants saw a cue indicating whether an aversive noise burst would appear at the end of the trial. In some conditions, participants were told they could avoid this noise burst by completing a task (digit identification) correctly and in an optimal time frame. Although participants with high trait anxiety demonstrated greater levels of attention bias to threat, there was no difference in attention bias between the mitigation and no-mitigation conditions, which suggests that attention-bias is pervasive and seen across contexts.

Putative Brain Networks Underlying Repetitive Negative Thinking and Comorbid Internalizing Problems in Autism

Catherine A. Burrows, Kiara R. Timpano, and Lucina Q. Uddin

People with autism-spectrum disorders (ASDs) often experience anxiety and depression. Despite this, little is known about the underlying mechanism of such disorders in this population. The authors propose that repetitive negative thinking (RNT) — perseverating on negative information about oneself or one’s experiences — may account for the relationship among these disorders. They suggest that an inflexible cognitive style, often characteristic of people with ASDs, interacts with negative self-referential thinking to increase risk for developing RNT. They examine potential neural underpinnings of RNT, including the salience network and the default network, and discuss the implications and future directions of this area of research.

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