New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Emotional and Cognitive Empathy in Caregivers of People With Neurodegenerative Disease: Relationships With Caregiver Mental Health
Alice Y. Hua, Jenna L. Wells, Casey L. Brown, and Robert W. Levenson

Caregivers of people with dementia or neurodegenerative disease who show high levels of emotional empathy appear to have poorer mental health than those with lower empathy levels. In a sample of caregivers of people with dementia or neurodegenerative disease, Hua and colleagues measured mental health, emotional empathy (by registering physiological, behavioral, and emotional responses to a film depicting other people’s suffering), and cognitive empathy (by registering how accurately participants identified other people’s emotions). Higher emotional empathy, but not cognitive empathy, appeared to be associated with worse mental health, suggesting that emotional empathy might be a risk factor and an intervention target.

Emotion Regulation Diversity in Current and Remitted Depression
Alainna Wen, Leanne Quigley, K. Lira Yoon, and Keith S. Dobson

Emotion regulation (ER) diversity may have an important role in depression, this research suggests. Wen and colleagues created the ER diversity index on the basis of how three groups of participants—currently depressed, remitted depressed, and healthy—rated their use of emotion regulation strategies (e.g., self-blame, acceptance). The ER diversity index was more associated with depression status than other ER measures, such as a flexibility score. Compared with healthy individuals, currently and remitted depressed individuals showed more diversity in overall and maladaptive ER strategies (e.g., catastrophizing) but less diversity in adaptive ER strategies (e.g., putting things into perspective).

Motivations for Emotions in Bipolar Disorder
Yael Millgram, June Gruber, Cynthia M. Villanueva, Anna Rapoport, and Maya Tamir

Millgram and colleagues assessed motivations for different emotions in relation to bipolar disorder (BD). One set of participants self-reported the extent to which they were motivated to experience different emotions and emotional instability in daily life. Other sets of participants completed tasks in which Millgram and colleagues measured their motivations for positive and negative emotions. Participants at high risk for BD, but not those actually diagnosed with BD, were likely to self-report motivation for emotional instability. In the tasks, participants at high risk for or diagnosed with BD were more likely than their healthy counterparts to show increased motivation for sadness and decreased motivation for happiness. But this effect was not so clear in the self-reports.

Preventing Recurrence of Depression: Long-Term Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial on Cognitive Control Training for Remitted Depressed Patients
Kristof Hoorelbeke, Nathan Van den Bergh, Rudi De Raedt, Marieke Wichers, and Ernst H. W. Koster

Hoorelbeke and colleagues assessed the long-term effects of cognitive control training (CCT) on remitted depression. The researchers assigned patients to 10 sessions of either CCT, in which they used computerized tasks targeting executive functions, or active control training (ACT), in which they performed a similar but less demanding version of CCT. CCT increased cognitive task performance over ACT and was related to lower recurrence of depressive episodes, but no differences between CCT and ACT emerged in weekly reports of depressive symptoms or self-report questionnaires at a 1-year follow-up. Overall, CCT did not appear to lead to long-term benefits over ACT.

High Emotion Differentiation Buffers Against Internalizing Symptoms Following Exposure to Stressful Life Events in Adolescence: An Intensive Longitudinal Study
Erik C. Nook, John C. Flournoy, Alexandra M. Rodman, Patrick Mair, and Katie A. McLaughlin

Emotion differentiation might buffer adolescents against anxiety and depression as consequences of stress. Nook and colleagues tested adolescents’ emotion differentiation (i.e., the ability to specifically identify one’s feelings) and tracked their exposure to stress and internalizing problems (i.e., depressed and anxious affect and symptoms) for 1 year, using month-level assessments and daily-moment assessments. At the moment-level assessments, participants with higher negative and positive emotion differentiation were less likely to show feelings of depression connected with stressful events. At the month-level assessments, participants with higher negative emotion differentiation were less likely to show anxiety symptoms connected with stressful events.

The Impact of Personality Pathology Across Three Generations: Evidence From the St. Louis Personality and Intergenerational Network Study
Allison N. Shields, Thomas F. Oltmanns, Michael J. Boudreaux, Sarah E. Paul, Ryan Bogdan, and Jennifer L. Tackett

Personality pathology in one generation appears to confer risk for psychopathology across subsequent generations, this research suggests. Shields and colleagues examined the transfer risk of personality disorder across three generations and found that broad grandparent personality pathology was associated with broad grandchild psychopathology. The researchers also found that grandparents’ internalizing personality disorders (e.g., paranoid, schizoid, obsessive compulsive) were associated with grandchildren’s externalized psychopathologies (e.g., histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial). Taken together, these findings suggest that the transmission of personality pathology across generations appears to operate across broad rather than specific (i.e., individual disorder) psychopathology domains.

Depression and the Adoption of Faux Depression Symptoms: Novel Evidence for a Self-Verification Perspective
William Hart, Christopher J. Breeden, Kyle Richardson, and Charlotte Kinrade

People high in depression appear to engage in behaviors that reinforce their depressive symptoms to validate their depressed identity (self-verification perspective). In a novel sham task, participants reported perceptions of color after being told what a depressed brain would perceive. Participants higher (vs. lower) in depression reported perceiving color as more or less intense, matching what the researchers told them about depressed brains. This behavior felt authentic to participants, contributed to their belief of being depressed, and made their feelings more tolerable, supporting the self-verification perspective.

Proof of Concept for the Autobiographical Memory Flexibility (MemFlex) Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Ali Reza Moradi et al.

MemFlex is an autobiographical memory flexibility intervention that can be used in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to improve balancing (recalling positive memories to balance against negative memories), elaboration (increasing the details of positive memories), and flexibility (the ability to move between different levels of memories). Moradi and colleagues evaluated whether MemFlex influences other cognitive predictors of PTSD. They showed that, in Iranian trauma survivors diagnosed with PTSD, MemFlex increased memory flexibility and reduced maladaptive posttraumatic cognitions, which can improve the prognosis of people with PTSD. MemFlex might be an efficient intervention to improve the cognitive mechanisms of PTSD.

Motives for Substance Use in Daily Life: A Systematic Review of Studies Using Ecological Momentary Assessment
Victoria R. Votaw and Katie Witkiewitz

Votaw and Witkiewitz reviewed 64 studies that used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to evaluate motives for substance use. In these studies, researchers had assessed participants’ use patterns and motives throughout their days. Results showed unclear support for the motivational model of substance use (i.e., coping, enhancement, social, and conformity motives interact with contextual factors to influence substance use). Results also indicated that EMAs and trait measures of motives (e.g., sensation seeking or self-critical perfectionism) might not reflect the same constructs. Thus, it appears that more research will help to understand heterogeneous reasons for substance use in daily life.

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