New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Straight to the Source: e-Communities for Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and the Emerging Case for Harm Reduction in the Treatment of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury
Emma G. Preston and Amy E. West

Reconceptualizations of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) appear to converge on the idea that NSSI provides certain benefits, including affect regulation, which can make cessation difficult. Despite the high prevalence of NSSI (estimates suggest that between 17% and 38% of adolescents and young adults engage in NSSI), no effective treatments appear to be available. Here, Preston and West propose a reconceptualized treatment approach to NSSI that includes harm-reduction interventions. They review how NSSI e-communities—online groups that share content about and experiences with NSSI—that often contain harm-reduction content (e.g., wound care, safe cutting practices) may inform harm-reduction interventions.

Effect Sizes Reported in Highly Cited Emotion Research Compared With Larger Studies and Meta-Analyses Addressing the Same Questions
Ioana A. Cristea, Raluca Georgescu, and John P. A. Ioannidis

Cristea and colleagues examined articles in emotion research with at least 1,000 citations, along with matching meta-analyses of observational studies and experimental studies. They found that highly cited observational studies had effects 1.42 times greater on average than the meta-analyses, and highly cited experimental studies had effects 1.29 times greater. Both types of studies also reported higher effect sizes than the largest studies in each category and did not have the highest weights (i.e., did not make the largest contributions to the overall effect size) in meta-analyses. However, highly cited studies also tended to be the earliest ones published on the topic they investigated.

Mental Health and Prenatal Bonding in Pregnant Women During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence for Heightened Risk Compared With a Prepandemic Sample
Alyssa R. Morris and Darby E. Saxbe

Morris and Saxbe compared the mental health of two groups of pregnant women: those surveyed before the COVID-19 pandemic and those surveyed during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States. Women surveyed during the pandemic showed higher depression, anxiety, and stress, accompanied by weaker prenatal bonding to their children, than women surveyed before the pandemic. Women who reported that the pandemic had more negatively affected their social relationships reported higher distress, but these social changes did not predict mental health changes and, in some cases, were associated with lower depression and stronger prenatal bonding.

Rumination Derails Reinforcement Learning With Possible Implications for Ineffective Behavior
Peter Hitchcock

Rumination—the constant passive thought about one’s distress—may affect how people learn from their errors and adjust their future behavior. Hitchcock and colleagues induced participants to engage in ruminative thinking (e.g., “think about why you react the way you do”) or neutral thinking (e.g., “think about clouds forming in the sky”) and then measured participants’ performance on a series of games that required multidimensional learning and selective attention. Rumination impaired performance but not because it decreased attention. Instead, it appeared to disrupt reinforcement learning. The researchers also measured participants’ trait rumination and found that it impaired attention but did not affect performance.

How Robust Is the p Factor? Using Multitrait-Multimethod Modeling to Inform the Meaning of General Factors of Youth Psychopathology
Ashley L. Watts et al.

Watts and colleagues used multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) modeling to examine p factors (general factor of psychopathology; a single dimension that reflects risk for all forms of psychopathology) in three samples of youths. In each sample, three informants (e.g., the child, a parent, and a teacher) reported on the youth’s psychopathology. MTMM modeling indicated that empirical support for the p factor diminished in multi-informant models compared with mono-informant models. Thus, support for the p factor appears to be stronger in designs with only one informant, possibly because of consistency biases or different manifestations of psychopathology in different contexts.

Sex Moderates Reward- and Loss-Related Neural Correlates of Triarchic-Model Traits and Antisocial Behavior
Sarah J. Brislin et al.

Brislin and colleagues examined sex differences in the associations between psychopathy and neural responses to reward and loss. Functional MRI data collected during a monetary incentive task indicated that males with higher antisocial behavior showed less activation in the left nucleus accumbens during loss anticipation, but females with higher antisocial behavior showed this neural pattern during loss feedback. Results also indicated that boldness and meanness scores may have differential associations with neural activation. The findings suggest the usefulness of using triarchic models (positing that psychopathy is a combination of boldness, disinhibition, and meanness traits) and considering sex differences to understand different aspects of psychopathic personality.

The Benefits of Living With Close Others: A Longitudinal Examination of Mental Health Before and During a Global Stressor
Natalie M. Sisson, Emily C. Willroth, Bonnie M. Le, and Brett Q. Ford

Living with close others, such as children or romantic partners, might protect mental health and well-being during a pandemic. Sisson and colleagues assessed the mental health of two samples of U.S. adults monthly between February and September 2020 (i.e., before and during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic). Results indicated that people who lived with close others (children and partners) reported higher well-being before and during the pandemic. And, although this group overall experienced increases in ill-being during the pandemic onset, parents recovered more quickly than nonparents.

The Prognostic Utility of Personality Traits Versus Past Psychiatric Diagnoses: Predicting Future Mental Health and Functioning
Monika A. Waszczuk et al.

Waszczuk and colleagues compared the use of either personality traits or past diagnoses to predict future mental health and functioning in samples of adolescents, trauma-exposed patients, and psychiatric patients. Results indicated that personality traits predicted first onsets of psychiatric disorders, symptom chronicity, and future functioning more accurately than past and current diagnoses. These results support the added value of assessing personality traits in clinical settings and are consistent with the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP), a classification system that clusters symptoms of mental illness into dimensions of psychopathology rather than using classic diagnostic taxonomies.

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