New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Interpersonal Distance Regulation and Approach-Avoidance Reactions Are Altered in Psychopathy
Robin Welsch, Christoph von Castell, and Heiko Hecht

 The interpersonal distance (IPD) one considers appropriate between themselves and a stranger is influenced by many factors, including one’s personality traits. Participants’ comfortable IPD was measured in a virtual environment in which they approached an avatar with an angry or a happy face. Contrary to participants with few psychopathic traits (e.g., fearless dominance), those with more psychopathic traits kept the same IPD for both angry and happy avatars, showing that psychopathy seems to affect IPD regulation in response to the emotions expressed by the other person.

Worsening of Self-Reported Symptoms Through Suggestive Feedback
Daniël van Helvoort, Henry Otgaar, and Harald Merckelbach
      
When participants completed a scale to evaluate their stress symptoms and received false feedback about two symptoms, provided by a bogus computer program and reinforced by a researcher, they were likely to accept the false feedback and provide explanations for the inflated ratings. Those who accepted the inflated ratings were more likely to provide higher ratings of those symptoms in a later assessment. These findings suggest that individuals’ symptom self-reports are affected by misinformation and may help to explain the worsening of symptoms during psychological treatment.

Emotion Dynamics and the Association With Depressive Features and Borderline Personality Disorder Traits: Unique, Specific, and Prospective Relationships
Marlies Houben and Peter Kuppens
  
Houben and Kuppens assessed participants’ depressive and BPD features and the extent to which they were experiencing negative and positive emotions over the course of one week and then one year later. BPD features were linked to higher variability in negative affect, but depressive features were not connected to emotional inertia, as other studies had suggested. The psychopathological features predicted the emotion dynamics 1 year later rather than the opposite, indicating that emotion dynamic patterns might be a consequence rather than a precedent of psychopathological features.

Direction of Dependence Between Specific Symptoms of Depression: A Non-Gaussian Approach
Regina García-Velázquez, Markus Jokela, and Tom Henrik Rosenström

Using an analysis that allows an estimate of whether the presence of one symptom is more likely to depend on the presence of another symptom than vice versa, García-Velázquez and colleagues found that, in six large samples of adults and a simulation, depressed mood and anhedonia changed when other symptoms changed. Suicidality, however, reinforced other symptoms rather than being affected by them. Thus, treating suicidality might be more effective for treating depression than targeting symptoms such as mood or anhedonia.

Cross-Lagged Association Between Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Perceived Centrality of a Terrorist Attack
Kristin Alve Glad, Nikolai Olavi Czajkowski, Grete Dyb, and Gertrud S. Hafstad

Survivors of the 2011 terrorist attack on Utøya island, Norway, were interviewed 15 and 30 months after the event, providing information about how central the attack became in their lives and their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Glad and colleagues found that when the event was more central, more PTSD symptoms were reported at both times and that PTSD symptoms reinforced centrality at the second interview but not vice-versa. These findings suggest that the degree to which survivors of a traumatic event experience the event as central might be an effect, not a cause, of PTSD symptoms.

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