Emotional state

Kevin Lewis

February 03, 2013

Conservatives Anticipate and Experience Stronger Emotional Reactions to Negative Outcomes than Liberals

Samantha Joel, Caitlin Burton & Jason Plaks
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: The present work examined whether conservatives and liberals differ in their anticipation of their own emotional reactions to negative events.

Methods: In two studies, participants imagined experiencing positive or negative outcomes in domains that do not directly concern politics. In Study 1, 190 American participants recruited online (64 male; Mage = 32 years) anticipated their emotional responses to romantic relationship outcomes. In Study 2, 97 Canadian undergraduate students (26 male; Mage = 21 years) reported on their anticipated and experienced emotional responses to academic outcomes.

Results: In both studies, more conservative participants predicted they would feel stronger negative emotions following negative outcomes than did more liberal participants. Furthermore, a longitudinal follow-up of Study 2 participants revealed that more conservative participants actually felt worse than more liberal participants after receiving a lower-than-desired exam grade. These effects remained even when controlling for the Big 5 traits, prevention focus, and attachment style (Study 1), and optimism (Study 2).

Conclusions: We discuss how the relationship between political orientation and anticipated affect likely contributes to differences between conservatives and liberals in styles of decision and policy choices.


Self-Affirmation Underlies Facebook Use

Catalina Toma & Jeffrey Hancock
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Social network sites, such as Facebook, have acquired an unprecedented following, yet it is unknown what makes them so attractive to users. Here we propose that these sites' popularity can be understood through the fulfillment of ego needs. We use self-affirmation theory to hypothesize why and when people spend time on their online profiles. Study 1 shows that Facebook profiles are self-affirming in the sense of satisfying users' need for self-worth and self-integrity. Study 2 shows that Facebook users gravitate toward their online profiles after receiving a blow to the ego, in an unconscious effort to repair their perceptions of self-worth. In addition to illuminating some of the psychological factors that underlie Facebook use, the results provide an important extension to self-affirmation theory by clarifying how self-affirmation operates in people's everyday environments.


Did the Decline in Social Connections Depress Americans' Happiness?

Stefano Bartolini, Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno
Social Indicators Research, February 2013, Pages 1033-1059

During the last 30 years US citizens experienced, on average, a decline in reported happiness, social connections, and confidence in institutions. We show that a remarkable portion of the decrease in happiness is predicted by the decline in social connections and confidence in institutions. We carry out our investigation in three steps. First, we run a happiness regression that includes various indicators of social connections and confidence in institutions, alongside with own income, reference income, and the usual socio-demographic controls. We find that indicators of social connections and confidence in institutions are positively and significantly correlated with happiness. Second, we investigate the evolution of social connections and confidence in institutions over time, finding that they generally show a declining trend. Third, we calculate the variation in happiness over time as predicted by each of its statistically significant correlates, finding that the decrease in happiness is mainly predicted by the decline in social connections and by the growth in reference income. More precisely, the sum of the negative changes in happiness predicted by the reduction in social connections and the increase in reference income more than offsets the positive change predicted by the growth of household income. Also, the reduction in happiness predicted by the decline in confidence in institutions is non-negligible, although substantially smaller than the one predicted by either social connections or reference income.


Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior

Mark Anderson, Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

While the contemporaneous association between mental health problems and criminal behavior has been explored in the literature, the long-term consequences of such problems, depression in particular, have received much less attention. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine the effect of depression during adolescence on the probability of engaging in a number of criminal behaviors later in life. In our analysis, we control for a rich set of individual, family, and neighborhood level factors to account for conditions that may be correlated with both childhood depression and adult criminality. One novelty in our approach is the estimation of school and sibling fixed effects models to account for unobserved heterogeneity at the neighborhood and family levels. Furthermore, we exploit the longitudinal nature of our data set to account for baseline differences in criminal behavior. We find little evidence that adolescent depression predicts the likelihood of engaging in violent crime or the selling of illicit drugs. However, our empirical estimates show that adolescents who suffer from depression face an increased probability of engaging in property crime. Our estimates imply that the lower-bound economic cost of property crime associated with adolescent depression is about 219 million dollars annually.


Many apples a day keep the blues away - Daily experiences of negative and positive affect and food consumption in young adults

Bonnie White, Caroline Horwath & Tamlin Conner
British Journal of Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: Prior research has focused on the association between negative affect and eating behaviour, often utilizing laboratory or cross-sectional study designs. These studies have inherent limitations, and the association between positive affect and eating behaviour remains relatively unexplored. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the bidirectional relationships between daily negative and positive affective experiences and food consumption in a naturalistic setting among healthy young adults.

Design: Daily diary study across 21 days (microlongitudinal, correlational design).

Methods: A total of 281 young adults with a mean age of 19.9 (±1.2) years completed an Internet-based daily diary for 21 consecutive days. Each day they reported their negative and positive affect, and their consumption of five specific foods. Hierarchical linear modelling was used to test same-day associations between daily affect and food consumption, and next-day (lagged) associations to determine directionality. Moderating effects of BMI and gender were also examined in exploratory analyses.

Results: Analyses of same-day within-person associations revealed that on days when young adults experienced greater positive affect, they reported eating more servings of fruit (p = .002) and vegetables (p < .001). Results of lagged analysis showed that fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive affect the next day, suggesting that healthy foods were driving affective experiences and not vice versa. Meaningful changes in positive affect were observed with the daily consumption of approximately 7-8 servings of fruit or vegetables.

Conclusions: Eating fruit and vegetables may promote emotional well-being among healthy young adults.


Implicit theories of emotion shape regulation of negative affect

Andreas Kappes & Andra Schikowski
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Implicit theories of emotion - assumptions about whether emotions are fixed (entity theory) or malleable (incremental theory) - have previously been shown to influence affective outcomes over time. We examined whether implicit theories of emotion also relate to the immediate regulation of negative affect. Consistent with our hypotheses, we found that the more students endorsed an entity theory of emotion, the more discomfort they reported while watching an aversive movie clip, the more they avoided affective stimuli in this movie clip, the more negative affect they reported after the clip, and the less likely they were to watch the same clip again to learn about its ending. These findings suggest that implicit theories of emotion might produce poor affective outcomes immediately as well as over time. They also offer insight into why some people avoid negative affect while others confront it.


Consistency Over Flattery: Self-Verification Processes Revealed in Implicit and Behavioral Responses to Feedback

Özlem Ayduk et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Negative social feedback is often a source of distress. However, self-verification theory provides the counterintuitive explanation that negative feedback leads to less distress when it is consistent with chronic self-views. Drawing from this work, the present study examined the impact of receiving self-verifying feedback on outcomes largely neglected in prior research: implicit responses (i.e., physiological reactivity, facial expressions) that are difficult to consciously regulate and downstream behavioral outcomes. In two experiments, participants received either positive or negative feedback from interviewers during a speech task. Regardless of self-views, positive compared to negative feedback elicited lower self-reported negative affect. Implicit responses to negative feedback, however, depended on chronic self-views with more negative self-views associated with lower blood pressure reactivity, lower facial negativity, and enhanced creativity. These findings point at the role self-verification may play in long-term coping and stress regulation.


Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies

Yuna Ferguson & Kennon Sheldon
Journal of Positive Psychology, January/February 2013, Pages 23-33

Does the explicit attempt to be happier facilitate or obstruct the actual experience of happiness? Two experiments investigated this question using listening to positive music as a happiness-inducing activity. Study 1 showed that participants assigned to try to boost their mood while listening to 12 min of music reported higher positive mood compared to participants who simply listened to music without attempting to alter mood. However, this effect was qualified by the predicted interaction: the music had to be positively valenced (i.e. Copland, not Stravinsky). In Study 2, participants who were instructed to intentionally try to become happier (vs. not trying) reported higher increases in subjective happiness after listening to positively valenced music during five separate lab visits over a two-week period. These studies demonstrate that listening to positive music may be an effective way to improve happiness, particularly when it is combined with an intention to become happier.


Long-Term Unemployment and Suicide: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Allison Milner, Andrew Page & Anthony LaMontagne
PLoS ONE, January 2013

Purpose: There have been a number of reviews on the association+ between unemployment and suicide, but none have investigated how this relationship is influenced by duration of unemployment.

Method: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of those studies that assessed duration of unemployment as a risk factor for suicide. Studies considered as eligible for inclusion were population-based cohort or case-control designs; population-based ecological designs, or hospital based clinical cohort or case-control designs published in the year 1980 or later.

Results: The review identified 16 eligible studies, out of a possible 10,358 articles resulting from a search of four databases: PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Scopus and Proquest. While all 16 studies measured unemployment duration in different ways, a common finding was that longer duration of unemployment was related to greater risk of suicide and suicide attempt. A random effects meta-analysis on a subsample of six cohort studies indicated that the pooled relative risk of suicide in relation to average follow-up time after unemployment was 1.70 (95% CI 1.22 to 2.18). However, results also suggested a possible habituation effect to unemployment over time, with the greatest risk of suicide occurring within five years of unemployment compared to the employed population (RR = 2.50, 95% CI 1.83 to 3.17). Relative risk appeared to decline in studies of those unemployed between 12 and 16 years compared to those currently employed (RR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.33).

Conclusion: Findings suggest that long-term unemployment is associated with greater incidence of suicide. Results of the meta-analysis suggest that risk is greatest in the first five years, and persists at a lower but elevated level up to 16 years after unemployment. These findings are limited by the paucity of data on this topic.


The Effects of Childhood ADHD on Adult Labor Market Outcomes

Jason Fletcher
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

While several types of mental illness, including substance abuse disorders, have been linked with poor labor market outcomes, no current research has been able to examine the effects of childhood ADHD. As ADHD has become one of the most prevalent childhood mental conditions, it is useful to understand the full set of consequences of the illness. This paper uses a longitudinal national sample, including sibling pairs, to show important labor market outcome consequences of ADHD. The employment reduction is between 10-14 percentage points, the earnings reduction is approximately 33%, and the increase in social assistance is 15 points, which are larger than many estimates of the black-white earnings gap and the gender earnings gap. A small share of the link is explained by education attainments and co-morbid health conditions and behaviors. The results also show important differences in labor market consequences by family background and age of onset. These findings, along with similar research showing that ADHD is linked with poor education outcomes and adult crime, suggest that treating childhood ADHD can substantially increase the acquisition of human capital.


Recent Trends in Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Darios Getahun et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To examine trends in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and median household income.

Design: An ecologic study of trends in the diagnosis of ADHD using the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health plan medical records. Rates of ADHD diagnosis were derived using Poisson regression analyses after adjustments for potential confounders.

Setting: Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena.

Participants: All children who received care at the KPSC from January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2010 (n = 842 830).

Main Exposure: Period of ADHD diagnosis (in years).

Main Outcome Measures: Incidence of physician-diagnosed ADHD in children aged 5 to 11 years.

Results: Rates of ADHD diagnosis were 2.5% in 2001 and 3.1% in 2010, a relative increase of 24%. From 2001 to 2010, the rate increased among whites (4.7%-5.6%; relative risk [RR] = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.4), blacks (2.6%- 4.1%; RR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.5-1.9), and Hispanics (1.7%-2.5%; RR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.5-1.7). Rates for Asian/Pacific Islander and other racial groups remained unchanged over time. The increase in ADHD diagnosis among blacks was largely driven by an increase in females (RR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.3). Although boys were more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD than girls, results suggest the sex gap for blacks may be closing over time. Children living in high-income households were at increased risk of diagnosis.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the rate of ADHD diagnosis among children in the health plan notably has increased over time. We observed disproportionately high ADHD diagnosis rates among white children and notable increases among black girls.


Too Much of a Good Thing? Psychosocial Resources, Gendered Racism, and Suicidal Ideation among Low Socioeconomic Status African American Women

Brea Perry, Erin Pullen & Carrie Oser
Social Psychology Quarterly, December 2012, Pages 334-359

Very few studies have examined predictors of suicidal ideation among African American women. Consequently, we have a poor understanding of the combinations of culturally specific experiences and psychosocial processes that may constitute risk and protective factors for suicide in this population. Drawing on theories of social inequality, medical sociology, and the stress process, we explore the adverse impact of gendered racism experiences and potential moderating factors in a sample of 204 predominantly low socioeconomic status (SES) African American women. We find that African American women's risk for suicidal ideation is linked to stressors occurring as a function of their distinct social location at the intersection of gender and race. In addition, we find that gendered racism has no effect on suicidal ideation among women with moderate levels of well-being, self-esteem, and active coping but has a strong adverse influence in those with high and low levels of psychosocial resources.


Losing control, literally: Relations between anger control, trait anger, and motor control

Konrad Bresin & Michael Robinson
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Self-control perspectives of multiple traits have been proposed, perhaps most particularly so in the anger realm. Four studies sought to examine potential relations between anger control, trait anger, and motor control. Across the four studies, individuals (total N=366) were asked to hold a joystick cursor on a spatial target as accurately and steadily as possible and two indices of motor control were quantified. Studies 1 and 2 found that higher levels of (trait) anger control were predictive of better motor control. Studies 3 and 4 then showed that higher levels of trait anger were predictive of worse motor control. All studies also examined possible state-related influences on motor control (e.g., as a function of aversive noise), but no such effects were found. Thus, the trait-related findings were basic in nature and informative for this reason. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding personality variations in anger control and anger and the value of motoric probes of self-control.


Counterfactual thinking about one's birth enhances well-being judgments

Samantha Heintzelman et al.
Journal of Positive Psychology, January/February 2013, Pages 44-49

Previous research demonstrates that thinking counterfactually about life experiences facilitates meaning making about those events. Two studies extend this work into the well-being domain by examining the effects of writing factually or counterfactually about one's birth on well-being. In Study 1, participants (N = 252) were randomly assigned to write factually or counterfactually about their births or the election of Barack Obama and then completed measures of meaning in life and life satisfaction. Writing counterfactually about one's birth led to higher evaluations of life relative to all other groups. In Study 2, (N = 98) participants wrote factually or counterfactually about their births and again completed well-being measures. Fate attributions, probability estimates, and feelings of luck were explored as potential mediators. The effect on well-being from Study 1 replicated, but was not driven by any of the measured variables. Implications for existential psychology and well-being research are discussed.


Back to Baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the British Household Panel Survey

Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis
Economica, forthcoming

We look for evidence of adaptation in wellbeing to major life events using eighteen waves of British panel data. Adaptation to marriage, divorce, birth of child and widowhood appears to be rapid and complete; this is not so for unemployment. These findings are remarkably similar to those in previous work on German panel data. Equally, the time profiles with life satisfaction as the wellbeing measure are very close to those using a twelve-item scale of psychological functioning. As such, the phenomenon of adaptation may be a general one, rather than being found only in German data or using single-item wellbeing measures.


Familial Self as a Potent Source of Affirmation: Evidence From China

Huajian Cai, Constantine Sedikides & Lixin Jiang
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Does affirmation of familial self have a distinct buffering function compared to affirmation of close other (friend, partner) self or individual self? We addressed this question in an East-Asian culture (China) that places particularly high value on familial self. Familial self-affirmation (compared to other forms of self-affirmation as well as low affirmation) curtailed the mortality salience-induced intolerance to birth-control policy (Experiment 1), reduced female participants' performance detriments - due to stereotype threat - on mental rotation (Experiment 2), and diminished the disadvantageous influence of negative feedback on further interest in information about one's weaknesses (Experiment 3). Close other self-affirmation, devoid of family context, was no more potent than individual self-affirmation or low affirmation. The findings underscore the utility of distinguishing among different sources of self-affirmation, highlight the relevance of familial self-affirmation to self-affirmation theory, and call for research testing the germaneness of familial self (and, more generally, the construct of family) in other Eastern, as well as Western, cultures.


Malnutrition in Early Life and Adult Mental Health: Evidence From a Natural Experiment

Cheng Huang et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

As natural experiments, famines provide a unique opportunity to test the health consequences of nutritional deprivation during the critical period of early life. Using data on 4,972 Chinese born between 1956 and 1963 who participated in a large mental health epidemiology survey conducted between 2001 and 2005, we investigated the potential impact of famine exposure in utero and during the early postnatal life on adult mental illness. The risk of mental illness was assessed with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and eight other risk factors, and the famine impact on adult mental illness was estimated by difference-in-difference models. Results show that compared with women born in 1963, women born during the famine years (1959-1961) had higher GHQ scores (increased by 0.95 points; CI: 0.26, 1.65) and increased risk of mental illness (OR= 2.80; CI: 1.23, 6.39); those born in 1959 were the most affected and had GHQ scores 1.52 points higher (CI: 0.42, 2.63) and an OR for mental illness of 4.99 (CI: 1.68, 14.84). Compared to men in the 1963 birth cohort, men born during the famine had lower GHQ scores (decreased by 0.89 points; CI: -1.59, -0.20) and a nonsignificant decrease in the risk of mental illness (OR = 0.60; CI: 0.26, 1.40). We speculate that the long-term consequences of early-life famine exposure include both the selection of the hardiest and the enduring deleterious effects of famine on those who survive. The greater biological vulnerability and stronger natural selection in utero of male versus female fetuses during severe famine may result in a stronger selection effect among men than women, obscuring the deleterious impact of famine exposure on the risk of mental illness in men later in life.

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