New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Do Dr. Google and Health Apps Have (Comparable) Side Effects? An Experimental Study
Stefanie M. Jungmann, Sebastian Brand, Johanna Kolb, and Michael Witthöft

Using Google or health-related apps to diagnose symptoms may increase health anxiety and have other negative effects. Participants did a fast-breathing exercise to induce hyperventilation and then either Googled possible causes for their symptoms, used a diagnostic app, or simply waited. Googling or using the app led to increased anxiety, stronger negative affect, and increased perceived need to consult a physician. These findings support the idea that health-related Internet use may contribute to emotional distress, leading to so-called cyberchondria.

Informant Discrepancies in Judgments About Change During Mental Health Treatments
Jessecae K. Marsh, Andrew S. Zeveney, Andres De Los Reyes

Marsh and colleagues sought to explore how people weigh different informants’ impressions of mental health treatment effectiveness. The researchers presented information from multiple informants (e.g., child patients, parents) about the effects of treatments for children and then asked participants to evaluate the treatments. Across four experiments, they found that laypeople and mental health clinicians trusted informants who they thought were insightful about the specific disorder. That is, participants trusted the child client if the condition was internalizing (e.g., depression), but they trusted external sources who were removed from the child (e.g., teachers) if the disorder was externalizing (e.g., conduct disorders). Regardless of condition, participants trusted informants who were pessimistic about overall improvement.

Accurate Empathy, Social Rejection, and Social Anxiety Disorder
Karen Auyeung and Lynn E. Alden

Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) may have difficulty translating their empathy for social pain into prosocial action, this research suggests. Compared with participants without SAD, those with SAD showed greater empathic understanding of target individuals who discussed high-school experiences in which they were socially excluded (i.e., they were more accurate at assessing the target individuals’ negative emotions arising from social exclusion). However, participants with SAD provided fewer suggestions to help these targets repair relationships than did participants without SAD. These findings suggest that individuals with SAD may benefit from therapeutic interventions that help them capitalize on their empathic sensitivity and transform it into encouragement for others.

Mental Disorder During Adolescence: Evidence of Arrested Personality Development
Johan Ormel, Anoek M. Oerlemans, Dennis Raven, Albertine J. Oldehinkel, and Odilia M. Laceulle

Ormel and colleagues surveyed adolescents at ages 11, 13, 16, and 19 and their parents. They found that adolescent internalizing disorders (e.g., depression) predicted increases in fearfulness and frustration, whereas externalizing disorders (e.g., conduct disorders) predicted decreases in effortful control. Fearfulness and frustration tended to bounce to normal levels after the remission of disorders, but delays in the development of effortful control were still present 2.9 years after remission. This suggests that experiencing mental disorders during adolescence might have scarring effects on personality development.

Do Cognitive Tasks Reduce Intrusive-Memory Frequency After Exposure to Analogue Trauma? An Experimental Replication
Amalia Badawi, David Berle, Kris Rogers, and Zachary Steel

Performing a visuospatial cognitive task, such as playing the video game Tetris, may reduce intrusive memories after exposure to a potentially traumatic event. Participants watched a short film showing injury and death-related themes. After that, they watched stills from the film as reminders, followed by either playing Tetris, performing a digital task that relies on visual working memory, or sitting in silence for 12 min. After this, participants tracked their intrusive memories of the film for 8 days. Participants who played Tetris reported fewer intrusive memories than did those who performed the working memory task or did nothing.

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