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APA Journal of Abnormal Psychology

Testing the CaR–FA–X model: Investigating the mechanisms underlying reduced autobiographical memory specificity in individuals with and without a history of depression.Open in a New Window

Reduced autobiographical memory specificity (AMS) is an important cognitive phenomenon in major depressive disorder (MDD), but knowledge about mechanisms is lacking. The CaR–FA–X model of Williams and colleagues (2007) proposed that 3 processes contributed to reduce AMS: capture and rumination (CaR), functional avoidance (FA), and impaired executive control (X). However, the entire CaR–FA–X model has not been tested. We addressed this gap in the literature by investigating contributions of the CaR–FA–X mechanisms to reduced AMS, alone or in interaction, in a subset of young adults (N = 439) from the Northwestern–UCLA Youth Emotion Project. Participants were classified as those with (n = 164) and without (n = 275) a history of MDD at AMS assessment. They completed measures of: AMS; rumination (the brooding factor; CaR); childhood, adolescent, and early adulthood adversity (FA); avoidant coping (FA); and verbal fluency (X). Using structural equation modeling, we found greatest support for associations between reduced AMS and the capture and rumination, and impaired executive control mechanisms. In those with and without a history of MDD, brooding and verbal fluency interacted to contribute to reduced AMS. For participants without a history of MDD, lower verbal fluency (indicating impaired executive control) was associated with reduced AMS among those high on brooding. For participants with a history of MDD, lower verbal fluency was associated with reduced AMS among those low on brooding. The first finding was consistent with the CaR–FA–X model but the latter was not. Implications for conceptualizations of reduced AMS and its mechanisms are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Change in emotion regulation strategy use and its impact on adolescent nonsuicidal self-injury: A three-year longitudinal analysis using latent growth modeling.Open in a New Window

This longitudinal study examines the extent to which changes in the use of cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, and rumination impact on frequency, duration, and medical severity of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) among adolescents. Data from 3,143 predominantly female high school students recruited from 40 Australian secondary schools were analyzed using latent growth curve modeling. Significant differences in the psychological factors between the 555 participants with a history of NSSI and non-self-injurers were reported at baseline. Self-injurers experienced significantly greater accumulation of life stressors over time compared with non-self-injurers. After controlling for adverse life events, psychological distress and other emotion regulation strategies, use of cognitive reappraisal at baseline was associated with less severe NSSI presentations, and slower growth in medical severity of NSSI over time. Findings indicate that while both cohorts have similar emotion regulation trajectories, adolescents who self-injure start off at a disadvantage and have a propensity to engage in less helpful processes that tend to heighten negative emotional states. Results recommend increasing focus on improving adolescents’ frequency and skills in use of cognitive reappraisal in efforts to reduce NSSI among this population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Emotional reactivity and emotion regulation among adults with a history of self-harm: Laboratory self-report and functional MRI evidence.Open in a New Window

Intentionally hurting one’s body (deliberate self-harm; DSH) is theorized to be associated with high negative emotional reactivity and poor emotion regulation ability. However, little research has assessed the relationship between these potential risk factors and DSH using laboratory measures. Therefore, we conducted 2 studies using laboratory measures of negative emotional reactivity and emotion regulation ability. Study 1 assessed self-reported negative emotions during a sad film clip (reactivity) and during a sad film clip for which participants were instructed to use reappraisal (regulation). Those with a history of DSH were compared with 2 control groups without a history of DSH matched on key demographics: 1 healthy group low in depression and anxiety symptoms and 1 group matched to the DSH group on depression and anxiety symptoms. Study 2 extended Study 1 by assessing neural responding to negative images (reactivity) and negative images for which participants were instructed to use reappraisal (regulation). Those with a history of DSH were compared with a control group matched to the DSH group on demographics, depression, and anxiety symptoms. Compared with control groups, participants with a history of DSH did not exhibit greater negative emotional reactivity but did exhibit lower ability to regulate emotion with reappraisal (greater self-reported negative emotions in Study 1 and greater amygdala activation in Study 2 during regulation). These results suggest that poor emotion regulation ability, but not necessarily greater negative emotional reactivity, is a correlate of and may be a risk factor for DSH, even when controlling for mood disorder symptoms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Network analysis of persistent complex bereavement disorder in conjugally bereaved adults.Open in a New Window

Persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD) is a bereavement-specific syndrome characterized by prolonged and impairing grief. Most research on this syndrome rests on the traditional latent variable model, whereby symptoms reflect an underlying entity. The network (or causal system) approach offers an alternative framework for understanding PCBD that does not suffer from limitations inherent in the latent entity approach. The network approach to psychopathology conceptualizes the relation between symptoms and disorder as mereological, not reflective. That is, symptoms do not reflect an inferred, unobservable category or dimension, but rather are themselves constitutive of the disorder. Accordingly, we propose that PCBD constitutes a causal system of mutually reinforcing symptoms that arise following the death of a loved one and settle into a pathological equilibrium. In this study, we used data from the Changing Lives of Older Couples database to identify symptoms central to PCBD, to distinguish the PCBD network from an overlapping but distinct network of depression symptoms, and to examine how previously identified risk factors may contribute to the maintenance or development of PCBD. Together, these findings provide an important first step toward understanding the nature and etiology of the PCBD network. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Comparative physiological reactivity during script-driven recall in depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.Open in a New Window

Increased physiological responsiveness to trauma memories is common in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is related to higher felt memory intrusiveness. Physiological reactivity to remembering of distressing personal events in depression and its association with memory quality have not been examined. Heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SC) reactivity during script-driven recall were assessed in participants with a depressive episode without PTSD (n = 24), participants with PTSD (n = 24), and nondisordered controls (n = 24). Participants reported on event impact and memory quality. PTSD participants showed higher HR and SC reactivity during trauma recall compared with recall of other events and compared with depressed participants for HR and SC reactivity and compared with nondisordered participants for HR reactivity. Although reactivity between depressed and nondisordered participants was not significantly different, the findings indicated a consistent trend toward an attenuation of reactivity to memories of events subjectively associated with symptom onset for those with depression. There was no evidence that the presence of depression impacted the increased physiological responsiveness observed in PTSD. Higher avoidance was associated with lower HR reactivity to the event memory for depressed participants, whereas higher avoidance was associated with higher HR reactivity to the trauma memory for PTSD participants. Trauma remembering in PTSD is distinctive from comparable remembering in depression in triggering high physiological reactivity. Avoidance of remembering the event predicts attenuated physiological reactivity to critical event recall in depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Bidirectional relationships between trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress: A longitudinal study of Detroit residents.Open in a New Window

Previous research has documented bidirectional relationships between trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress (PTS), such that individuals who are exposed to more traumatic events are at increased risk of developing PTS, and more severe PTS is associated with more subsequent trauma exposure. However, the empirical literature is limited by a lack of longitudinal studies that include continuous measures of PTS, differentiate between assaultive (e.g., sexual assault, being held up or mugged) and nonassaultive (e.g., serious illness, natural disaster) trauma, and focus on urban contexts. The purpose of this study was to fill these gaps through testing 3-wave cross-lagged panel models of exposure to assaultive and nonassaultive traumatic events and PTS among a large sample of urban-dwelling adults (N = 1,360; 84.4% non-Hispanic Black). In the model including assaultive trauma, more Wave 2 assaultive events were associated with significantly higher Wave 3 PTS. In contrast, in the model including nonassaultive trauma, higher Wave 1 and Wave 2 PTS were associated with more nonassaultive events at Waves 2 and 3, respectively. Taken together, the findings suggest a cycle of adversity wherein urban residents who have experienced assaultive trauma are at risk of more severe PTS, which in turn increases risk for exposure to nonassaultive trauma. This cycle could be tested directly in future studies through models including both types of events. Additional research on the mechanisms that underlie the pathways between PTS and traumatic events could also have implications for policy and practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Exposure to rapid succession disasters: A study of residents at the epicenter of the Chilean Bío Bío earthquake.Open in a New Window

We examined cumulative and specific types of trauma exposure as predictors of distress and impairment following a multifaceted community disaster. Approximately 3 months after the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent looting in Bío Bío, Chile, face-to-face interviews were conducted in 5 provinces closest to the epicenter. Participants (N = 1,000) were randomly selected using military topographic records and census data. Demographics, exposure to discrete components of the disaster (earthquake, tsunami, looting), and exposure to secondary stressors (property loss, injury, death) were evaluated as predictors of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, global distress, and functional impairment. Prevalence of probable posttraumatic stress disorder was 18.95%. In adjusted models examining specificity of exposure to discrete disaster components and secondary stressors, PTS symptoms and global distress were associated with earthquake intensity, tsunami exposure, and injury to self/close other. Increased functional impairment correlated with earthquake intensity and injury to self/close other. In adjusted models, cumulative exposure to secondary stressors correlated with PTS symptoms, global distress, and functional impairment; cumulative count of exposure to discrete disaster components did not. Exploratory analyses indicated that, beyond direct exposure, appraising the tsunami and looting as the worst components of the disaster correlated with greater media exposure and higher socioeconomic status, respectively. Overall, threat to life indicators correlated with worse outcomes. As failure of government tsunami warnings resulted in many deaths, findings suggest disasters compounded by human errors may be particularly distressing. We advance theory regarding cumulative and specific trauma exposure as predictors of postdisaster distress and provide information for enhancing targeted postdisaster interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Cognitive load and emotional processing in generalized anxiety disorder: Electrocortical evidence for increased distractibility.Open in a New Window

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may be characterized by emotion regulation deficits attributable to an imbalance between top-down (i.e., goal-driven) and bottom-up (i.e., stimulus-driven) attention. In prior work, these attentional processes were examined by presenting unpleasant and neutral pictures within a working memory paradigm. The late positive potential (LPP) measured attention toward task-irrelevant pictures. Results from this prior work showed that working memory load reduced the LPP across participants; however, this effect was attenuated for individuals with greater self-reported state anxiety, suggesting reduced top-down control. In the current study, the same paradigm was used with 106 medication-free female participants—71 with GAD and 35 without GAD. Unpleasant pictures elicited larger LPPs, and working memory load reduced the picture-elicited LPP. Compared with healthy controls, participants with GAD showed large LPPs to unpleasant pictures presented under high working memory load. Self-reported symptoms of anhedonic depression were related to a reduced effect of working memory load on the LPP elicited by neutral pictures. These results indicate that individuals with GAD show less flexible modulation of attention when confronted with unpleasant stimuli. Furthermore, among those with GAD, anhedonic depression may broaden attentional deficits to neutral distracters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


The effect of disgust and fear modeling on children’s disgust and fear for animals.Open in a New Window

Disgust is a protective emotion associated with certain types of animal fears. Given that a primary function of disgust is to protect against harm, increasing children’s disgust-related beliefs for animals may affect how threatening they think animals are and their avoidance of them. One way that children’s disgust beliefs for animals might change is via vicarious learning: by observing others responding to the animal with disgust. In Experiment 1, children (ages 7–10 years) were presented with images of novel animals together with adult faces expressing disgust. Children’s fear beliefs and avoidance preferences increased for these disgust-paired animals compared with unpaired control animals. Experiment 2 used the same procedure and compared disgust vicarious learning with vicarious learning with fear faces. Children’s fear beliefs and avoidance preferences for animals again increased as a result of disgust vicarious learning, and animals seen with disgust or fear faces were also rated more disgusting than control animals. The relationship between increased fear beliefs and avoidance preferences for animals was mediated by disgust for the animals. The experiments demonstrate that children can learn to believe that animals are disgusting and threatening after observing an adult responding with disgust toward them. The findings also suggest a bidirectional relationship between fear and disgust with fear-related vicarious learning leading to increased disgust for animals and disgust-related vicarious learning leading to increased fear and avoidance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Premorbid adjustment profiles in psychosis and the role of familial factors.Open in a New Window

Disease heterogeneity in patients with psychotic disorder may be explained by distinct profiles of premorbid adjustment. The current study explored premorbid adjustment profiles in patients with psychotic disorders, associations with cognitive and clinical characteristics after disease onset, and the role of familial factors. A total of 666 patients with psychosis (predominantly schizophrenia), 673 siblings, 575 parents, and 585 controls were included in this study. Cluster analyses were performed on the patients’ scores of the Premorbid Adjustment Scale (PAS), using information on domains (social, academic) and age epochs (childhood, early adolescence, late adolescence). Resulting profiles were compared with characteristics in patients and their unaffected relatives. Six clusters, labeled normal, social intermediate, academic decline, overall decline, overall intermediate, and overall impaired adjustment, were identified in patients. Patients in different clusters differed from each other on cognitive, clinical, and functional characteristics after disease onset. Heterogeneity in the patient population may be explained in part by the adjustment profile prior to disease onset. This is in line with theories that propose different etiologies in the development of psychosis. Patient profiles were expressed in unaffected siblings, suggesting a role for familial factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


The attentional boost effect in schizophrenia.Open in a New Window

The present study reports 2 experiments examining the Attentional Boost Effect (ABE) in schizophrenic patients and matched healthy controls, using visual and verbal materials. The ABE refers to the surprising finding that, in a divided attention condition, images and words encoded with targets are remembered better than images and words encoded with distractors. Unlike controls (who showed the typical ABE), schizophrenic patients reported no memory advantage for stimuli presented together with targets in the divided attention condition. On the other hand, the interference effect on the recognition of stimuli presented with distractors was not exacerbated in patients (as compared with controls). In line with the dual-task interaction model proposed by Swallow and Jiang (2013), the absence of a significant facilitation indicates that schizophrenic patients have a deficit in the process of attentional enhancement triggered by target detection. A number of neural mechanisms potentially underlying this impairment are discussed, as well as implications for the characterization of the attentional deficits involved in schizophrenia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Integrating oddity traits in a dimensional model for personality pathology precursors.Open in a New Window

Current dimensional measures of early personality pathology (e.g., the Dimensional Personality Symptom Item Pool, DIPSI; De Clercq, De Fruyt, Van Leeuwen, & Mervielde, 2006) describe personality difficulties within a 4-dimensional framework. The present study corroborates recent evidence on the relevance of including a 5th Oddity-related domain for a more comprehensive description of personality pathology, and presents the construction of an empirically based taxonomy of early Oddity features. Psychometric and factor analytic procedures were conducted on self- and maternal ratings of adolescents (N = 434), resulting in 4 internally consistent facets that empirically collapse in 1 higher-order “Oddity” factor. From a structural perspective, this Oddity factor emerged as a clear 5th factor beyond the earlier proposed 4-dimensional structure of child and adolescent personality pathology. Significant associations of Oddity with both general and maladaptive trait equivalents support the construct validity of this 5th factor, and challenge current hypotheses on the applicability of the continuity hypothesis on general and maladaptive trait variance within the openness field. The results further suggest that Oddity traits are meaningfully associated with general psychopathology at a young age. These findings are discussed in terms of the importance of including a 5th Oddity-related factor in dimensional models of developmental personality pathology in order to acquire a more comprehensive description of the building blocks that underlie early personality difficulties. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Out of the frying pan, into the fire: Mixed affective reactions to social proximity in borderline and avoidant personality disorders in daily life.Open in a New Window

Social proximity typically helps individuals meet their belongingness needs, but several forms of psychopathology, including borderline and avoidant personality disorders (BPD and APD, respectively) are characterized by social difficulties. This experience-sampling study is one of the first to directly investigate the affective reactions of individuals with BPD and APD (compared with healthy controls [HC]) to social proximity in daily life. We examined both person-level and day-level reactions. At the person level, the rate of social proximity across the diary period was associated with diminished feelings of rejection, isolation, shame, and dissociation in the HC group. In contrast, it was not associated with any affective reaction in the BPD group, and was associated with decreased rejection and isolation on the one hand, but also with increased anxiety in the APD group. At the day level, we used multilevel regression to examine affective reactions when in social proximity. The HC group showed a consistent benefit when in social proximity. In contrast, both PD groups exhibited mixed affective reactions to social proximity; specifically, benefits (increased positive affect, decreased rejection, isolation, and dissociation) were interspersed with costs (increased shame for both PD groups; increased anger for BPD; increased anxiety for APD). The mixed reactions found in both PDs may contribute to the disturbed relationships of individuals with these disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Structural coherence and temporal stability of psychopathic personality features during emerging adulthood.Open in a New Window

Psychopathy is a complex personality disorder characterized by affective, interpersonal, and behavioral dimensions. Although features of psychopathy have been extended downwardly to earlier developmental periods, there is a discerning lack of studies that have focused on critically important issues such as longitudinal invariance and stability/change in these features across time. The current study examines these issues using a large sample of male adolescent offenders (N = 1,170) assessed across 7 annual time points during the transition into emerging adulthood (ages ∼17 to 24 years). Findings demonstrated that features of psychopathy remained longitudinally invariant across this developmental period, and showed temporally consistent and theoretically coherent associations with other measures of personality, psychopathology, and criminal behaviors. Results also demonstrated that mean levels of psychopathic personality features tended to decrease into emerging adulthood and showed relatively modest rank-order stability across assessments with 7-year lags. These findings suggest that reductions in maladaptive personality features seem to parallel the well-documented decreases in offending that occur during the early 20s. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Response monitoring and adjustment: Differential relations with psychopathic traits.Open in a New Window

Studies on the relation between psychopathy and cognitive functioning often show mixed results, partially because different factors of psychopathy have not been considered fully. Based on previous research, we predicted divergent results based on a 2-factor model of psychopathy (interpersonal-affective traits and impulsive-antisocial traits). Specifically, we predicted that the unique variance of interpersonal-affective traits would be related to increased monitoring (i.e., error-related negativity) and adjusting to errors (i.e., posterror slowing), whereas impulsive-antisocial traits would be related to reductions in these processes. Three studies using a diverse selection of assessment tools, samples, and methods are presented to identify response monitoring correlates of the 2 main factors of psychopathy. In Studies 1 (undergraduates), 2 (adolescents), and 3 (offenders), interpersonal-affective traits were related to increased adjustment following errors and, in Study 3, to enhanced monitoring of errors. Impulsive-antisocial traits were not consistently related to error adjustment across the studies, although these traits were related to a deficient monitoring of errors in Study 3. The results may help explain previous mixed findings and advance implications for etiological models of psychopathy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Metacognition, metamemory, and mindreading in high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder.Open in a New Window

Metacognition refers to cognition about cognition and encompasses both knowledge of cognitive processes and the ability to monitor and control one’s own cognitions. The current study aimed to establish whether metacognition is impaired in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to some theories, the ability to represent one’s own mental states (an aspect of metacognition) relies on the same mechanism as the ability to represent others’ mental states (“mindreading”). Given numerous studies have shown mindreading is impaired in ASD, there is good reason to predict concurrent impairments in metacognition. Metacognition is most commonly explored in the context of memory, often by assessing people’s ability to monitor their memory processes. The current study addressed the question of whether people with ASD have difficulty monitoring the contents of their memory (alongside impaired mindreading). Eighteen intellectually high-functioning adults with ASD and 18 IQ- and age-matched neurotypical adults participated. Metamemory monitoring ability and mindreading ability were assessed by using a feeling-of-knowing task and the “animations” task, respectively. Participants also completed a self-report measure of metacognitive ability. In addition to showing impaired mindreading, participants with ASD made significantly less accurate feeling-of-knowing judgments than neurotypical adults, suggesting that metamemory monitoring (an aspect of metacognition) was impaired. Conversely, participants with ASD self-reported superior metacognitive abilities compared with those reported by neurotypical participants. This study provides evidence that individuals with ASD have metamemory monitoring impairments. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for our current understanding of metacognition in ASD and typical development are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


A meta-analytic evaluation of the endophenotype hypothesis: Effects of measurement paradigm in the psychiatric genetics of impulsivity.Open in a New Window

Recent transitions in psychiatric nosology have stimulated discussion about what constructs and what level of analysis are most appropriate for the study of psychopathology. The endophenotype hypothesis suggests that neurobiological and neuropsychological phenotypes will be superior to trait or diagnostic measures in elucidating the substrates of psychopathology, as the former are more proximal, and therefore more sensitive, to underlying etiology. This meta-analysis explores these issues by comparing the magnitude of genetic effects associated with phenotypes at different levels of analysis. Studies of 3 common polymorphisms—the short and long variants of the serotonin-transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), the variable number tandem repeat polymorphism in the 3′ untranslated region of the dopamine active transporter gene (DAT1 3′ UTR VNTR), and the 48 base-pair VNTR in exon-3 of the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4)—and their effects on phenotypes of impulsivity were examined. Consistent with endophenotype theory, level of phenotype moderated the magnitude of genetic effects. Diagnostic, trait and neuropsychological, then neurobiological phenotypes yielded successively larger effects. However, consistent with emerging meta-analytic findings, neurobiological phenotypes were most susceptible to bias and inflation, raising questions about the validity of reported effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


The many faces of affect: A multilevel model of drinking frequency/quantity and alcohol dependence symptoms among young adults.Open in a New Window

This research tested a multilevel structural equation model of associations between 3 aspects of affective functioning (state affect, trait affect, and affective lability) and 3 alcohol outcomes (likelihood of drinking, quantity on drinking days, and dependence symptoms) in a sample of 263 college students. Participants provided 49 days of experience sampling data over 1.3 years in a longitudinal burst design. Within-person results: At the daily level, positive affect was directly associated with greater likelihood and quantity of alcohol consumption. Daily negative affect was directly associated with higher consumption on drinking days and with higher dependence symptoms. Between-person direct effects: Affect lability was associated with higher trait negative, but not positive, affect. Trait positive affect was inversely associated with the proportion of drinking days, whereas negative affectivity predicted a greater proportion of drinking days. Affect lability exhibited a direct association with dependence symptoms. Between-person indirect effects: Trait positive affect was associated with fewer dependence symptoms via proportion of drinking days. Trait negative affect was associated with greater dependence symptoms via proportion of drinking days. The results distinguish relations of positive and negative affect to likelihood versus amount of drinking and state versus trait drinking outcomes, and highlight the importance of affect variability for predicting alcohol dependence symptoms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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