New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Empathic Accuracy and Shared Depressive Symptoms in Close Relationships
Casey L. Brown, Kevin J. Grimm, Jenna L. Wells, Alice Y. Hua, and Robert W. Levenson

Why do close partners often share depressive symptoms? It may be because of empathic accuracy, or the ability of accurately understand other people’s emotions, this research suggests. Brown and colleagues used laboratory tasks that capture participants’ ability to rate other people’s emotional valence accurately over time. They tested married couples and informal caregivers of individuals with dementia. In both samples, greater empathic accuracy was associated with (a) fewer depressive symptoms when a partner lacked depressive symptoms and (b) more depressive symptoms when a partner had high levels of depressive symptoms.   

Hippocampal Connectivity With the Default Mode Network Is Linked to Hippocampal Volume in the Clinical High Risk for Psychosis Syndrome and Healthy Individuals
Katrina Aberizk et al.  

Reduced hippocampal volume is a common brain feature in psychiatric conditions, but what is the association between hippocampal volume and brain connectivity in individuals considered to be at risk for psychiatric conditions? Aberizk and colleagues examined these associations during rest in healthy participants and individuals at risk for psychosis. They found an inverse association between hippocampal volume and hippocampal functional connectivity with the inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and thalamus. However, after excluding participants on antipsychotic medication, the results implicated the temporal pole, not the IPL. These findings imply that hippocampal functional connectivity with the temporoparietal junction is associated with hippocampal volume. 

Stigmatizing Our Own: Self-Relevant Research (Me-Search) Is Common but Frowned Upon in Clinical Psychological Science
Andrew R. Devendorf et al.

Devendorf and colleagues investigated the prevalence of self-relevant research and attitudes toward self-relevant researchers in a North American sample of faculty, graduate students, and others affiliated with doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology. More than 50% of participants had conducted self-relevant research, with those from minoritized backgrounds more likely to do so. Compared to these individuals, participants who had not engaged in self-relevant research made more stigmatizing judgments of self-relevant research and self-relevant research disclosure. Psychologists and trainees had more negative attitudes toward self-relevant research on mental health topics (suicide, depression, schizophrenia) than on physical health topics (cancer).

Read about a related panel discussion at the 2022 APS Annual Convention, and stay tuned for an interview with the author on the Under the Cortex podcast.

Shifting Episodic Prediction With Online Cognitive-Bias Modification: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Jeremy W. Eberle et al.

Participants completed four online training sessions in which they were presented with future scenarios that varied in their outcome. The outcomes could be always positive, sometimes positive and sometimes negative, or always neutral. Participants assigned to positive scenarios (positive training) decreased their negative-expectancy bias and improved their positive-expectancy bias and self-efficacy more than participants assigned to neutral scenarios. Compared with positive-and-negative training, positive training improved expectancy bias and optimism more. In a 1-month follow-up, training gains were still present, albeit smaller. Unexpectedly, participants across conditions improved in anxiety and depression symptoms and growth mindset.   

Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Correlates of Interrupted and Aborted Suicide Attempts Among U.S. Active Duty Service Members Seeking Treatment for Suicidal Symptoms
Carol Chu, Chelsey R. Wilks, Thomas Joiner, and Peter M. Gutierrez

This research suggests the importance of considering interrupted and aborted suicide attempts (SAs), in addition to actual SAs, when evaluating suicide risk among high-risk active-duty service members. Service members receiving suicide-related treatment completed baseline measures of suicide-related correlates (suicidal thoughts, thwarted belongingness, anxiety sensitivity, insomnia symptoms, alcohol use, hopelessness, and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms) as well as at a 3-month follow-up. Results indicated that service members with interrupted and/or aborted SAs (and no prior SAs) reported significantly more severe baseline PTSD hyperarousal symptoms and were more likely to attempt suicide in the 3 months after baseline, compared with service members who had prior SAs.

Rhetoric and Clinical Science: Maximizing Rationality Within Post-Justificationist Knowledge
William O’Donohue

O’Donohue presents an analysis of science as rhetoric—that is, scientists use methods of persuasion to communicate with multiple audiences. The author argues that rhetoric provides a rich additional dimension for how criticism can identify error in clinical psychological science. Recognizing science’s rhetorical dimension can increase scrutiny about its rhetorical decisions and improve its quality. O’Donohue also identifies and criticizes some major tropes used in psychological journals (e.g., messy constructs that are poorly defined, such as “mental disorder”).

Longitudinal Stability of Disordered-Eating Symptoms From Age 12 to 40 in Black and White Women
Jordan E. Parker et al.

Black and white women appear to be equally susceptible to disordered eating, and symptoms that emerge in their adolescence may follow them into midlife. Parker and colleagues tested the long-term association between disordered-eating symptoms (body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and bulimia) in adolescence (ages 12, 14, 16, 18, 19) and adulthood (age 40)\ among Black and white women. Adolescent symptoms at each age significantly predicted adulthood symptoms for all women. Race did not significantly moderate associations, but bulimia symptoms at all adolescent time points predicted adulthood bulimia among white women, whereas symptoms only at ages 18 and 19 were predictive of adulthood bulimia among Black women.   

Decentering From Emotions in Daily Life: Dynamic Associations With Affect, Symptoms, and Well-Being
Kristin Naragon-Gainey et al.

Stepping away from your emotions may boost your mood. This research suggests that decentering from emotions in daily life appears to predict less inertia (persistence) of negative affect and to weaken the association of affect with dysphoria. Naragon-Gainey and colleagues used ecological momentary assessment (42 reports across 1 week) to examine how decentering impacts affect, dysphoria, individual symptoms, and well-being. Results indicated that greater decentering was associated with less persistence of negative affect and dysphoria. Decentering also predicted reduced impact of positive and negative affect on dysphoria symptoms, but results were mixed when predicting individual symptoms or well-being. 

The Insidious Influence of Stress: An Integrated Model of Stress, Executive Control, and Psychopathology
Meghan E. Quinn and Grant S. Shields

Quinn and Shields’s integrated model of stress, executive control, and psychopathology posits that the impairing effects of acute stress on executive control (the control of cognition and behavior) can contribute to psychopathology. The authors review research on biological, emotional, and cognitive processes that can be impacted by executive control. They thus propose a framework for how poorer executive control under conditions of acute stress can contribute to psychopathology. This integrated model is intended to further researchers’ and practitioners’ understanding of who is more susceptible to the negative consequences of stress. 

The Link Between Low Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies
Samantha Krauss, Laura C. Dapp, and Ulrich Orth

This research suggests a reciprocal relationship between low self-esteem and eating disorders. Krauss and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the connection between self-esteem and eating pathology (i.e., restrained eating, bulimic behavior, binge eating, eating concern, negative body image, and drive for thinness). They analyzed 48 independent samples with 19,187 participants (mean age of 19.3 years [range = 7–48]). Results suggested that (a) higher self-esteem predicted less total eating pathology over time, and (b) higher eating pathology predicted lower self-esteem over time. The effects did not differ across eating pathologies, age, gender, sample type (clinical vs. nonclinical), or time lag between assessments.   

State and Trait Emotion Regulation Diversity in Social Anxiety
Katharine E. Daniel et al.

The variety, frequency, and evenness of an individual’s emotion regulation (ER) strategies appear to predict the severity of their social anxiety. Daniel and colleagues tested whether trait- and state-level metrics of ER diversity could predict whether participants had high or low social anxiety. They found that higher trait ER diversity within avoidance-oriented strategies (i.e., avoiding thinking or dealing with emotions) predicted greater likelihood of high anxiety. At the state level, higher diversity across all ER strategies predicted higher anxiety. Trait and state ER diversity were largely unrelated. These findings suggest that high avoidance-oriented ER diversity may co-occur with higher social anxiety severity.  

Culturally Anchored Mental-Health Attitudes: The Impact of Language
Uriel C. Heller, Leigh H. Grant, Miwa Yasui, and Boaz Keysar

Language can prime cultural norms and modulate mental-health attitudes, this research indicates. Heller and colleagues evaluated whether bilingual speakers’ use of their native Chinese or foreign English affects their attitudes toward mental-health treatment. Results indicated that participants more strongly endorsed mental-health treatment when information was presented in English, regardless of whether they resided in the United States or mainland China. Consistent with a language-priming-culture hypothesis, participants using Chinese endorsed mental-health treatment less when they had a higher affiliation with traditional Asian values, whereas their recommendations remained independent of their affiliation with traditional Asian values when they used English.   

The Memory Wars Then and Now: The Contributions of Scott O. Lilienfeld
Steven Jay Lynn, Richard J. McNally, and Elizabeth F. Loftus

Beginning in the 1990s, the so-called memory wars featured disagreements among scientists and practitioners regarding repressed memories, recollections of trauma, and the hazards of memory recovery therapy. These controversies persist today concerning dissociative amnesia, beliefs about memory, suggestive psychotherapies, and the genesis of dissociative identity disorder (DID). In this review, Lynn and colleagues reflect on key conflicts, controversies, and flash points in the memory wars that have captured headlines, affected legislative action, and influenced civil suits and criminal trials. They recognize that these disagreements enhanced scientific understanding of memory, trauma, psychotherapies, and dissociative disorders. The authors also acknowledge Lilienfeld’s contributions to these discussions, particularly involving the sociocognitive model of DID and a transtheoretical framework that contrasts sharply with the posttraumatic view of DID.

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