New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

Psychopathy and the Regulation of Interpersonal Distance
Robin Welsch, Heiko Hecht, and Christoph von Castell

Individuals with psychopathy may have a completely different sense of personal space compared with others, results from this study by Welsch and colleagues suggest. In an experiment employing virtual reality and personality measurements, the researchers had participants walk toward an avatar with a happy or angry facial expression until they reached a comfortable distance for conversation. Participants scoring high on psychopathy, especially coldheartedness and self-centered impulsivity, did not adjust their preferred interpersonal distance (PID) depending on the facial expression of the avatar. In another experiment, participants had to adjust PID between two avatars, and those with higher psychopathy selected a shorter PID for male-female avatar pairs than did those with lower psychopathy. Therefore, psychopathy seems more related to changes in the ability to adjust PID depending on the social context than to an overall tolerance for shorter PIDs.

Negative Urgency Is Correlated With the Use of Reflexive and Disengagement Emotion Regulation Strategies
Kevin M. King, Madison C. Feil, and Max A. Halvorson

Open Materials badgeTo test whether negative urgency (i.e., the tendency to act rashly in response to strong negative emotions) is related to specific ways individuals identify, evaluate, and modify their emotions, King et al.  examined the relation between negative urgency and emotion regulation strategies in five samples of adolescents and college students. In two of the samples, participants were prompted via text-message to report their emotion-regulation strategies 3 times a day for 10 days. In all samples, in the face of negative emotions, individuals high on negative urgency were more likely to use emotion-regulation strategies that reflect disengagement or reflexivity (e.g., avoidance, rumination, self-blaming) rather than engagement strategies (e.g., acceptance, reappraisal). These findings suggest that whether negative emotions trigger impulsive behaviors might depend on emotion regulation. Therefore, the effects of high negative urgency on psychopathology might be diminished by clinical interventions targeting emotion regulation.

Maternal Psychosocial Risk Profiles in Pregnancy: Associations With Postpartum Maternal Health and Child Outcomes
Nicole Racine, Sheri Madigan, André Plamondon, Erin Hetherington, Sheila McDonald, and Suzanne Tough

In a survey of pregnant women, Racine and colleagues identified three profiles of maternal stress and social support: low stress–high support, moderate stress–moderate support, and high stress–low support. Mothers in the high stress–low support group reported having experienced more childhood physical/emotional abuse, and mothers in the moderate stress–moderate support group reported having experienced more family dysfunction. To explore how these profiles might influence maternal health and children’s developmental outcomes, Racine et al. also collected data during the postnatal period. Relative to the low-stress group, the high- and moderate-stress groups showed poorer mental and physical health, and their children had less developed communication skills, gross and fine motor skills, and problem solving. These results indicate a connection between mothers’ childhood experiences and stress-and-support profiles during pregnancy, which may affect maternal postpartum health and the child’s development. Thus, identifying levels of stress and support during pregnancy and implementing interventions for mothers at risk might mitigate negative outcomes, the researchers suggest.

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