New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

The Role of Attentional Control in Cognitive Deficits Associated With Chronic Pain
Hazel K. Godfrey, Amy T. Walsh, Ronald Fischer, and Gina M. Grimshaw

Chronic pain has been associated with cognitive deficits that in turn have been attributed to reduced attentional control involving everyday tasks, because patients either focus on the pain experience or divert their attention to pain-relevant threats in the environment. However, this new research suggests that attentional control might not be impaired in patients with chronic pain. In two tasks measuring attentional control, participants with chronic pain reported more difficulty than participants without chronic pain, but they did not actually differ in behavioral measures of attentional control (e.g., distraction).

Reward Processing Modulates the Association Between Trauma Exposure and Externalizing Psychopathology
Steven W. Kasparek, Jessica L. Jenness, and Katie A. McLaughlin

Sensitivity to rewards—the degree to which reward responses vary with reward value—may buffer children from externalizing problems (e.g., aggressive behavior) following exposure to trauma. Kasparek and colleagues examined measures of response to monetary rewards and reward sensitivity in participants 8 to 16 years old who had been exposed to different forms of adversity, such as trauma, neglect, and food insecurity. Participants with lower or moderate levels of reward sensitivity were more likely to show an association between trauma exposure and externalizing problems than those with higher levels of reward sensitivity.

Women With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Show Increased Repetitive Negative Thinking During the Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
Sophie H. Li, Thomas F. Denson, and Bronwyn M. Graham

Li and colleagues examined changes in repetitive negative thinking (RNT) and anxiety symptoms across the menstrual cycle in women with and without generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Women without GAD did not report changes in RNT or anxiety symptoms across the menstrual cycle, but when they experienced increases in progesterone, they reported reduced RNT. In contrast, women with GAD reported increases in RNT, but not anxiety, from the follicular phase (before ovulation) to the luteal phase (after ovulation). These results indicate that biological processes may influence processes that underlie anxiety disorders.

Trajectories of Distress Following the Great East Japan Earthquake: A Multiwave Prospective Study
Robin Goodwin, Kemmyo Sugiyama, Shaojing Sun, Masahito Takahashi, and Jun Aida

Goodwin and colleagues examined psychological distress in the years following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear leak. The yearly responses of 2,599 survivors involving a distress measure (2012–2016) showed four trajectories of distress: resilient (76%), with consistently low distress; delayed distress (8%), with low distress at first but increasing over time; recovery (8%), with high distress at first but decreasing over time; and chronic distress (7%), with consistently high distress. Respondents who did not follow a resilient trajectory were more likely to be male and have less social support.

Ruminative Inertia and Its Association With Current Severity and Lifetime Course of Depression
Christian A. L. Bean, Luke F. Heggeness, David A. Kalmbach, and Jeffrey A. Ciesla

What is the association between ruminative inertia—the degree to which levels of repetitive thoughts about negative emotional experiences are constant—and depression? Participants with depressive disorders reported their past depressive episodes and, for 3 weeks, completed daily surveys about their engagement in rumination and depressive symptoms. Participants whose rumination did not change much from day to day were more likely to report more severe depressive symptoms but fewer past depressive episodes than those with less ruminative inertia. The authors suggest that future studies clarify whether severe depressive symptoms cause ruminative inertia or vice versa.

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Disgust Proneness, Contamination Sensitivity, and Their Covariance
Joshua M. Tybur, Laura W. Wesseldijk, and Patrick Jern

Tybur and colleagues measured disgust proneness and contamination sensitivity, a symptom of anxiety embodied in habits such as washing hands more often than necessary, in a sample of twins and their siblings. Results indicated that those who were more prone to feel disgust were also more likely to show high contamination sensitivity. Genetic factors accounted for 54% of this relationship, and unshared environmental influences (i.e., different experiences that siblings in the same household might have at school or elsewhere outside of the home) accounted for 46%. However, shared environmental influences (i.e., the same experiences that siblings in the same household are exposed to, such as parents’ parenting style or cleaning behavior) did not appear to impact the relationship between disgust proneness and contamination sensitivity. Thus, parenting styles do not appear to shape children’s disgust proneness and related contamination sensitivity.

Integrating Multiple Informants’ Reports: How Conceptual and Measurement Models May Address Long-Standing Problems in Clinical Decision-Making
Bridget A. Makol, Eric A. Youngstrom, Sarah J. Racz, Noor Qasmieh, Lara E. Glenn, and Andres De Los Reyes

In a study of adolescents with social anxiety, Makol and colleagues tested the predictive power of the trait-score approach, which leverages principal components analysis (used to summarize a large set of complex correlated variables) to account for the context and perspective from which multiple informants (e.g., parents, teachers) provide reports. They found that trait score was a better predictor of social anxiety than individual informants’ reports or combined reports. These findings indicate that trait score can improve the prediction of clinical indices, which has implications for common practices used in multi-informant assessments.

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