New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Contact With an Ex-Partner Is Associated With Psychological Distress After Marital Separation
Karey L. O’Hara, Austin M. Grinberg, Allison M. Tackman, Matthias R. Mehl, and David A. Sbarra

O’Hara and colleagues examined recently separated adults in three assessments over 5 months. In each assessment, participants wore an Electronically Activated Recorder for 3 days, yielding a log of their activities and contacts. The researchers tracked participants’ changes in self-reported separation-related psychological distress (SRPD) in relation to their in-person contact with the ex-partner and found that, for those without shared children, more frequent contact with the ex-partner predicted higher SRPD two months later. The researchers discuss the possible implications of contact with ex-partners for adjusting to separations.

What Drives Symptom Reduction in Attention Bias Modification Treatment? A Randomized Controlled Experiment in Clinically Anxious Youths
Marian Linetzky, Jeremy W. Pettit, Wendy K. Silverman, Daniel S. Pine, and Yair Bar-Haim

Attention-bias modification (ABM) is a new therapy for anxiety disorders that targets attentional biases toward threats that supposedly result in anxiety. Linetzky and colleagues examined possible mechanisms underlying ABM’s efficacy and found little evidence supporting either dissociated spatial attention or threat exposure. However, treatment expectations and self-rated attention control might explain some of ABM’s efficacy. Participants with anxiety were assessed before, during, and after ABM treatment. All participants showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms, but this reduction was larger for those who reported larger improvements in attention control.

The Application of Network Analysis to Dynamic Risk Factors in Adult Male Sex Offenders
Jan Willem van den Berg, Wineke Smid, Jolanda J. Kossakowski, Daan van Beek, Denny Borsboom, Erick Janssen, and Luk Gijs

Which risk factors are associated with the propensity to repeat sexual and violent offenses? The researchers used a network approach to analyze data about sex offenders and identify the interrelationship among risk factors. They found that general rejection/loneliness occupied a central position as a risk factor for sex and violent offenses, poor cognitive problem solving was central for sexual or violent recidivism, and impulsive acts were central for sexual recidivism. These findings suggest that treatment of sexual offenders could focus on reducing feelings of loneliness, improving cognitive problem solving, inhibiting impulsive acts, and improving reintegration in society.

Within- and Between-Persons Effects of Self-Esteem and Affective State as Antecedents and Consequences of Dysfunctional Behaviors in the Everyday Lives of Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder
Philip S. Santangelo, Jana Holtmann, Georg Hosoya, et al.

Emotion-regulation skills and positive self-esteem might be important treatment targets to reduce dysfunctional behaviors in borderline personality disorder (BPD). Twelve times a day for 4 days, patients with BPD reported their current self-esteem, emotional valence, tense arousal, and whether they engaged in maladaptive coping attempts. High momentary negative affect predicted maladaptive coping, which was also associated with low momentary self-esteem and negative valence. Patients with high trait self-esteem (i.e., self-esteem that does not depend on the moment) were less likely to show maladaptive coping. All patients showed a deterioration of, rather than a relief from, negative states after engaging in maladaptive coping.

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