New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Habitual Behavior as a Mediator Between Food-Related Behavioral Activation and Change in Symptoms of Depression in the MooDFOOD Trial
Matthew Owens et al.

Owens and colleagues tested the mediators that may explain a reduction in depressive symptoms following a food-related behavioral intervention (F-BA) in overweight adults. They measured behavioral activation (change in adaptive behaviors that decrease depression), avoidance and rumination, eating styles, body mass index, and dietary behavior before the intervention and 3 and 12 months after the intervention in overweight adults with depressive symptoms. Although F-BA did not significantly reduce depressive symptoms, emotional eating and uncontrolled eating changed and mediated the effects of F-BA on depressive symptoms. This suggests that learning adaptive responses to emotional and food cues may mediate a reduction in depressive symptoms via F-BA.

A Transdiagnostic Application of the Contrast-Avoidance Model: The Effects of Worry and Rumination in a Personal-Failure Paradigm
Nimra Jamil and Sandra J. Llera

The contrast-avoidance model (CAM) proposes that chronic worry as an emotion-regulation mechanism in generalized anxiety disorder maintains negative emotionality and thus attenuates emotional contrasts or strong shifts into negative emotion as a result of adverse events. New research suggests that CAM appears to have transdiagnostic applications. Jamil and Llera induced healthy participants to either worry, rumination, or neutral regulation before engaging in a challenging task followed by false-failure feedback. Both worry and rumination increased negative emotion and thus reduced emotional contrast after feedback. These findings suggest that the CAM can be applied to rumination, a mechanism that maintains negative emotion in depression.

Personal Involvement of U.S. Vietnam Veterans in Harming Civilians and Prisoners: The Roles of Antisocial Predispositions and Combat Situations
Bruce P. Dohrenwend and Thomas J. Yager

In a previous study, Dohrenwend and Yager analyzed data from a sample of U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam who had been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and found that veterans’ participation in harm to civilians or prisoners was an important predictor of war-related PTSD. In this study, they investigated the impact of veterans’ predispositions to antisocial behavior and combat situations on their involvement in civilian and/or prisoner harm. The severity of the combat situation was the best predictor of the likelihood of harming these groups. Nevertheless, veterans who harmed civilians and/or prisoners had elevated prewar antisocial behavior as well as the most elevated war-related feelings of guilt later.

Viewing Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Adolescence Through a Developmental Neuroscience Lens: The Impact of Neural Sensitivity to Socioaffective Pain and Reward
Logan R. Cummings, Aaron T. Mattfeld, Jeremy W. Pettit, and Dana L. McMakin

In this review, Cummings and colleagues integrate human and animal studies that examined nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI; deliberate self-harm without the intent to die) to explore the link between neurodevelopment and NSSI in adolescence. The researchers suggest that sensitivity to socioaffective pain and reward might be neurodevelopmental mechanisms that increase risk of NSSI in adolescence. They propose that neurodevelopmental sensitivity exacerbates socioaffective risk pathways (e.g., social contagion), leading to self-harm onset, and sensitivity to reward strengthens the maintenance of self-harm. This neurodevelopmental model of NSSI may inform prevention and intervention programs that target NSSI in adolescence.

Nonverbal Synchrony and the Alliance in Psychotherapy for Major Depression: Disentangling State-Like and Trait-Like Effects
Keren Cohen, Fabian T. Ramseyer, Shachaf Tal, and Sigal Zilcha-Mano

Nonverbal synchrony between therapist and patient can be an important indicator of alliance in psychotherapy. Cohen and colleagues tested whether nonverbal synchrony was associated differently with an alliance’s trait-like components (i.e., variance between the patient-therapist dyad) and its state-like components (i.e., variance within a dyad throughout treatment). They studied 86 patients with major depression who were enrolled in a 16-session treatment, measuring nonverbal movement synchrony for each session and asking patients to report their alliance levels after every session. Results indicated an association between nonverbal synchrony and the state-like effect of patient-reported alliance but not the trait-like effect of alliance.

Deliberative Choice Strategies in Youths: Relevance to Transdiagnostic Anxiety Symptoms
Elise M. Cardinale et al.

Cardinale and colleagues tested the choice strategies employed by a community sample of 8- to 18-year-olds, who also completed measures of anxiety, irritability, and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Participants were asked to search for the best offer. The researchers measured their exploratory behavior by the number of offers sampled and compared their performance with an ideal modeled performance. Youths used choice strategies similar to those used by adults in previous studies but tended to explore fewer offers relative to ideal performance. Compared with the other groups, the group with more anxiety was less willing to explore options and performed worse.

Disentangling Doubt and Checking Behaviors and Examining Their Association With Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms
Asher Y. Strauss, Isaac Fradkin, and Jonathan D. Huppert

What is the relationship between obsessive compulsive (OC) symptoms, experiencing doubt, and compulsive checking? In a tone-discrimination task, people with high and low scores in OC symptoms identified which of two tones had the highest pitch. Results indicated that participants with higher OC scores experienced more doubt (measured by the mouse trajectory while responding) than those with lower scores. However, compulsive checking (measured by requests for tone replay) was associated with doubt but not with the level of OC symptoms. Future research may help to determine the conditions in which doubt evolves into compulsive checking in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Everyday Emotional Experiences in Current and Remitted Major Depressive Disorder: An Experience-Sampling Study
Renee J. Thompson, Natasha H. Bailen, and Tammy English

Thompson and colleagues examined the pattern of emotional disturbances in people with major depressive disorder (MDD) in remission. Participants with remitted MDD, current MDD, or no history of MDD reported their momentary affect five times per day for 14 days. Participants with current and no MDD reported the highest and lowest levels of negative-affect intensity and variability, respectively, whereas participants with remitted MDD fell in between. Only participants with current MDD reported lower positive affect than the other participants. These findings suggest that emotional disturbances in remitted MDD might be limited to heightened negative affect.

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