Kevin Lewis

July 29, 2012

Nostalgia as a Resource for the Self

Matthew Vess et al.
Self and Identity, Summer 2012, Pages 273-284

This research tested whether nostalgia serves as a positive resource for the self. In Experiment 1, nostalgia was induced and the accessibility of positive self-attributes was assessed. Participants who thought about a nostalgic experience, relative to those who thought about a positive future experience, evidenced heightened accessibility of positive self-attributes. In Experiment 2, participants received negative or positive performance feedback and then thought about a nostalgic or ordinary past experience. Subsequently, they were given the opportunity to make internal attributions for their performance. Participants displayed a typical pattern of self-serving attributions if they were not given the opportunity to engage in nostalgia. Nostalgic engagement, however, attenuated this effect. Nostalgia indeed functions as a positive resource for the self.


Adolescent Depression and Adult Labor Market Outcomes

Jason Fletcher
NBER Working Paper, July 2012

This paper uses recently released data from a national longitudinal sample to present new evidence of the longer term effects of adolescent depression on labor market outcomes. Results suggest reductions in labor force attachment of approximately 5 percentage points and earnings reductions of approximately 20% for individuals with depressive symptoms as an adolescent. These effects are only partially reduced when controlling for channels operating through educational attainment, adult depressive symptoms, or co-occurring illnesses. Further, the unique structure of the data allows for high-school fixed effects as well as suggestive evidence using sibling comparisons, which allows controls for potentially important unobserved heterogeneity. Overall, the results suggest that the links between adolescent depression and labor market outcomes are quite robust and important in magnitude, suggesting that there may be substantial labor market returns to further investments in treatment opportunities during adolescence.


Dealing efficiently with emotions: Acceptance-based coping with negative emotions requires fewer resources than suppression

Hugo Alberts, Francine Schneider & Carolien Martijn
Cognition & Emotion, Summer 2012, Pages 863-870

Previous studies have consistently shown that changing or avoiding emotions requires resources and therefore leads to impaired performance on a subsequent self-control task. The aim of the present study was to investigate the extent to which acceptance-based coping requires regulatory resources. Participants who accepted their emotions during exposure to a sad video performed better on a subsequent self-control task than participants who were instructed to suppress their emotions and a control group who received no instructions. These findings suggest that acceptance is an efficient strategy in terms of resources.


Cumulative and Relative Disadvantage as Long-Term Determinants of Negative Self-feelings

Heili Pals & Howard Kaplan
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

We analyze the long-term effects of neighborhood poverty and crime on negative self-feelings of young adults. Cumulative and relative disadvantage explanations are tested with the interactive effect of (1) neighborhood and individual-level economic disadvantage and (2) neighborhood crime and economic disadvantage. Results from a longitudinal study following adolescents to young adulthood show that the development of negative self-feelings (a combination of depression, anxiety, and self-derogation) is determined by relative, rather than cumulative disadvantage. The poor in affluent neighborhoods have the highest negative self-feelings, while the relatively wealthy in poor neighborhoods have the lowest negative self-feelings. Similarly, we find the highest increase in negative self-feelings is found in an affluent neighborhood with crime and not in a poor neighborhood with crime.


Jobless, Friendless and Broke: What Happens to Different Areas of Life Before and After Unemployment?

Nattavudh Powdthavee
Economica, July 2012, Pages 557-575

Using a nationally representative longitudinal dataset of the British people, this paper explores how different areas of a person's life evolved before and after unemployment. There is evidence that unemployment is preceded, on average, by a year of dissatisfaction with one's finance and job, for both genders. Having entered unemployment, men and women reported a significant and persistent drop in satisfaction with finance and social life, which perhaps explains why there is little overall hedonic adaptation to unemployment. This paper proposes a two-layer model to study leads and lags in life satisfaction to changes in employment status.


Does self-employment contribute to national happiness?

Sana El Harbi
Journal of Socio-Economics, forthcoming

Recent studies showed that self-employment impacts individual happiness either positively or negatively. Rather than considering the happiness effects at the individual level, we assess whether self-employment effects spread and impact the domestic happiness beyond the involved individuals. We distinguish a direct effect of self-employment on life satisfaction and an indirect effect through the impact of self-employment on per capita income and the subsequent impact of income on life satisfaction. Using panel data analysis for 15 OECD countries over a period of 18 years, we investigate empirically whether countries with higher levels of self-employment are happier, by disentangling the two previously mentioned effects. We remedy the potential endogeneity problem when estimating the indirect effect by instrumenting the self-employment rate. The main finding is a significant and negative direct effect which is larger in magnitude than the indirect effect, resulting in an overall negative effect of self-employment on the domestic happiness.


Threat advantage: Perception of angry and happy dynamic faces across cultures

Claudia Marinetti et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

The current study tested whether the perception of angry faces is cross-culturally privileged over that of happy faces, by comparing perception of the offset of emotion in a dynamic flow of expressions. Thirty Chinese and 30 European-American participants saw movies that morphed an anger expression into a happy expression of the same stimulus person, or vice versa. Participants were asked to stop the movie at the point where they ceased seeing the initial emotion. As expected, participants cross-culturally continued to perceive anger longer than happiness. Moreover, anger was perceived longer in in-group than in out-group faces. The effects were driven by female rather than male targets. Results are discussed with reference to the important role of context in emotion perception.


Enhanced emotional reactivity after selective REM sleep deprivation in humans: An fMRI study

Alejandra Rosales-Lagarde et al.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, June 2012

Converging evidence from animal and human studies suggest that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep modulates emotional processing. The aim of the present study was to explore the effects of selective REM sleep deprivation (REM-D) on emotional responses to threatening visual stimuli and their brain correlates using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Twenty healthy subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: selective REM-D, by awakening them at each REM sleep onset, or non-rapid eye movement sleep interruptions (NREM-I) as control for potential non-specific effects of awakenings and lack of sleep. In a within-subject design, a visual emotional reactivity task was performed in the scanner before and 24 h after sleep manipulation. Behaviorally, emotional reactivity was enhanced relative to baseline (BL) in the REM deprived group only. In terms of fMRI signal, there was, as expected, an overall decrease in activity in the NREM-I group when subjects performed the task the second time, particularly in regions involved in emotional processing, such as occipital and temporal areas, as well as in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, involved in top-down emotion regulation. In contrast, activity in these areas remained the same level or even increased in the REM-D group, compared to their BL level. Taken together, these results suggest that lack of REM sleep in humans is associated with enhanced emotional reactivity, both at behavioral and neural levels, and thus highlight the specific role of REM sleep in regulating the neural substrates for emotional responsiveness.


Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Self-directed Violence in Mothers

Marianne Pedersen et al.
Archives of General Psychiatry, forthcoming

Context: Two studies based on clinical samples have found an association between Toxoplasma gondii infection and history of suicide attempt. To our knowledge, these findings have never been replicated in a prospective cohort study.

Objective: To examine whether T gondii-infected mothers have an increased risk of self-directed violence, violent suicide attempts, and suicide and whether the risk depends on the level of T gondii IgG antibodies.

Design: Register-based prospective cohort study. Women were followed up from the date of delivery, 1992 to 1995 until 2006.

Setting: Denmark.

Participants: A cohort of 45 788 women born in Denmark whose level of Toxoplasma-specific IgG antibodies was measured in connection with child birth between 1992 and 1995.

Main Outcome Measures: Incidence rates of self-directed violence, violent suicide attempts, and suicide in relation to T gondii seropositivity and serointensity.

Results: T gondii-infected mothers had a relative risk of self-directed violence of 1.53 (95% CI, 1.27-1.85) compared with noninfected mothers, and the risk seemed to increase with increasing IgG antibody level. For violent suicide attempts, the relative risk was 1.81 (95% CI, 1.13-2.84) and for suicide, 2.05 (95% CI, 0.78-5.20). A similar association was found for repetition of self-directed violence, with a relative risk of 1.54 (95% CI, 0.98-2.39).

Conclusion: Women with a T gondii infection have an increased risk of self-directed violence.


A paradigm for the study of paranoia in the general population: The Prisoner's Dilemma Game

Lyn Ellett et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

A growing body of research shows that paranoia is common in the general population. We report three studies that examined the Prisoner's Dilemma Game (PDG) as a paradigm for evaluation of non-clinical paranoia. The PDG captures three key qualities that are at the heart of paranoia - it is interpersonal, it concerns threat, and it concerns the perception of others' intentions towards the self. Study 1 (n=175) found that state paranoia was positively associated with selection of the competitive PDG choice. Study 2 (n=111) found that this association was significant only when participants believed they were playing the PDG against another person, and not when playing against a computer. This finding underscores the interpersonal nature of paranoia and the concomitant necessity of studying paranoia in interpersonal context. In Study 3 (n=152), we assessed both trait and state paranoia, and differentiated between distrust- and greed-based competition. Both trait and state paranoia were positively associated with distrust-based competition (but not with greed-based competition). Crucially, we found that the association between trait paranoia and distrust-based competition was fully mediated by state paranoia. The PDG is a promising paradigm for the study of non-clinical paranoia.


Fear of childbirth and duration of labour: A study of 2206 women with intended vaginal delivery

S.S. Adams, M. Eberhard-Gran & A. Eskild
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, forthcoming

Objective: To assess the association between fear of childbirth and duration of labour.

Design: A prospective study of women from 32 weeks of gestation through to delivery.

Setting: Akershus University Hospital, Norway.

Population: A total of 2206 pregnant women with a singleton pregnancy and intended vaginal delivery during the period 2008-10.

Methods: Fear of childbirth was assessed by the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire (W-DEQ) version A at 32 weeks of gestation, and defined as a W-DEQ sum score ≥ 85. Information on labour duration, use of epidural analgesia and mode of delivery was obtained from the maternal ward electronic birth records.

Main outcome measures: Labour duration in hours: from 3-4 cm cervical dilatation and three uterine contractions per 10 minutes lasting ≥1 minute, until delivery of the child.

Results: Fear of childbirth (W-DEQ sum score ≥ 85) was present in 7.5% (165) of women. Labour duration was significantly longer in women with fear of childbirth compared with women with no such fear using a linear regression model (crude unstandardised coefficient 1.54; 95% confidence interval 0.87-2.22, corresponding to a difference of 1 hour and 32 minutes). After adjustment for parity, counselling for pregnancy concern, epidural analgesia, labour induction, labour augmentation, emergency caesarean delivery, instrumental vaginal delivery, offspring birthweight and maternal age, the difference attenuated, but remained statistically significant (adjusted unstandardised coefficient 0.78; 95% confidence interval 0.20-1.35, corresponding to a 47-minute difference).

Conclusion: Duration of labour was longer in women with fear of childbirth than in women without fear of childbirth.


Cerebellum and processing of negative facial emotions: Cerebellar transcranial DC stimulation specifically enhances the emotional recognition of facial anger and sadness

Roberta Ferrucci et al.
Cognition & Emotion, Summer 2012, Pages 786-799

Some evidence suggests that the cerebellum participates in the complex network processing emotional facial expression. To evaluate the role of the cerebellum in recognising facial expressions we delivered transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. A facial emotion recognition task was administered to 21 healthy subjects before and after cerebellar tDCS; we also tested subjects with a visual attention task and a visual analogue scale (VAS) for mood. Anodal and cathodal cerebellar tDCS both significantly enhanced sensory processing in response to negative facial expressions (anodal tDCS, p=.0021; cathodal tDCS, p=.018), but left positive emotion and neutral facial expressions unchanged (p>.05). tDCS over the right prefrontal cortex left facial expressions of both negative and positive emotion unchanged. These findings suggest that the cerebellum is specifically involved in processing facial expressions of negative emotion.


Facial expressions in response to a highly surprising event exceeding the field of vision: A test of Darwin's theory of surprise

Achim Schützwohl & Rainer Reisenzein
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

According to the affect program theory of facial displays, the evolutionary core of the human emotion system consists of a small set of discrete emotion mechanisms that comprise motor programs for emotion-specific facial displays. However, research on surprise has found that surprising events often fail to elicit the associated facial expression (widened eyes, raised eyebrows, mouth opening). The present study tested a refined Darwinian account of the facial expression of surprise, according to which surprising events cause widened eyes and raised eyebrows if they exceed the field of vision, as these facial changes increase the visual field and facilitate visual search. To test this hypothesis, we staged a surprising event that engulfed the field of vision: When the participants left the laboratory, they unexpectedly found themselves in a new room, a small chamber with bold green walls and a red office chair. In addition, to explore the role of social context for the expression of surprise, in two of three experimental conditions, a stranger or a friend they had brought to the experiment was sitting on the chair. The results provided no support for the Darwinian account of the facial expression of surprise. A complete expression of surprise was observed in 5% of the participants, and the individual components of the expression were shown only by a minority, regardless of social context. These findings reinforce doubts about the adequacy of affect program theory for the case of surprise.


Fetal Serotonin Signaling: Setting Pathways for Early Childhood Development and Behavior

Tim Oberlander
Journal of Adolescent Health, August 2012, Pages S9-S16

Finely tuning levels of the key neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) during early life is essential for brain development and setting pathways for health and disorder across the early life span. Given the central role of 5-HT in brain development, regulation of mood, stress reactivity, and risk for psychiatric disorders, alterations in 5-HT signaling early in life have critical implications for behavior and mental health in childhood and adolescence. This article reviews the developmental consequences of two key influences that alter fetal 5-HT signaling: (1) in utero exposure to 5-HT reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, and (2) genetic variations in the 5-HT transporter gene (SLC6A4). The consequences of altered prenatal 5-HT signaling vary greatly, and developmental outcomes depend on an ongoing interplay between biological (genetic/epigenetic variations), experiential (prenatal drug or maternal mood exposure), and contextual (postnatal social environment) variables. Emerging evidence suggests both exposure to 5-HT reuptake inhibitors and genetic variations that affect 5-HT signaling may increase sensitivity to negative social contexts for some individuals, whereas for others, they may confer sensitivity to positive life circumstances. In this sense, factors that change central 5-HT levels may function less like influences that predict "vulnerability," but rather act like "plasticity factors." Understanding the impact of early changes in serotonergic programming offers critical insights that might explain patterns of individual differences in developmental risk and resilience.


Achieving the same for less: Improving mood depletes blood glucose for people with poor (but not good) emotion control

Karen Niven et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Previous studies have found that acts of self-control like emotion regulation deplete blood glucose levels. The present experiment investigated the hypothesis that the extent to which people's blood glucose levels decline during emotion regulation attempts is influenced by whether they believe themselves to be good or poor at emotion control. We found that although good and poor emotion regulators were equally able to achieve positive and negative moods, the blood glucose of poor emotion regulators was reduced after performing an affect-improving task, whereas the blood glucose of good emotion regulators remained unchanged. As evidence suggests that glucose is a limited energy resource upon which self-control relies, the implication is that good emotion regulators are able to achieve the same positive mood with less cost to their self-regulatory resource. Thus, depletion may not be an inevitable consequence of engaging in emotion regulation.


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