Losing it

Kevin Lewis

March 26, 2017

The Role of Social Closeness During Tape Stripping to Facilitate Skin Barrier Recovery: Preliminary Findings

Hayley Robinson et al.

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Method: Seventy-two healthy adults were randomized to either a social closeness condition where participants completed a relationship-building task and tape stripping in pairs or a control condition where they completed tape stripping alone. Skin barrier recovery was measured using transepidermal water loss. Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase were collected at four time points as markers of the endocrine and autonomic stress response.

Results: Social closeness had a beneficial effect on skin barrier recovery compared to the control condition, t(54) = 2.86, p = .006, r = .36. Social closeness significantly reduced self-reported stress. The effects of the intervention on skin barrier recovery were moderated by self-reported stress reduction (p = .035). There were no significant differences in cortisol between groups, but alpha-amylase increased significantly more from baseline to after tape stripping in the control group compared to the intervention group.

Conclusions: This is the first study to show that social closeness with a person going through a similar unfamiliar procedure can positively influence wound healing. Future research needs to replicate these findings in other wound types and in clinical settings.


The harder they fall? Sex and race/ethnic specific suicide rates in the U.S. foreclosure crisis

Jason Houle & Michael Light

Social Science & Medicine, May 2017, Pages 114-124

Previous work shows suicide rates increase during economic recessions, but little research has examined the extent to which the foreclosure crisis - a unique aspect of the Great Recession - has contributed to disparities in rising suicide rates by race and sex. We develop and test two competing hypotheses regarding the association between foreclosures and race by sex specific suicide rates. We link foreclosure data (RealtyTrac) and suicide data (CDC) from 174 metropolitan areas from 2005 to 2010 (1044 MSA-year observations) and find that - net of time invariant unobserved between-metro area differences, national time trends, and time-varying confounders - a rise in the foreclosure rate is associated with a marginal increase in suicide, but this main effect masks considerable heterogeneity across groups. The association is particularly strong for white males, and weaker or non-existent for other race by sex groups.


The Economic Evaluation of Times Causes Stress

Jeffrey Pfeffer & Dana Carney

Academy of Management Discoveries, forthcoming

Psychological stress can cause decreases in well-being, increases in disease, and faster cellular death. Because the workplace is one prominent source of stress, it is both practically and theoretically useful to comprehensively understand which workplace practices may be stress-inducing. In two experiments, we found that people nudged to be in an "economic mindset" (who thought of time in terms of money while working on a realistic "at work" task) self-reported higher levels of psychological stress (Experiments 1 and 2) and also evidenced more physiological stress - levels of salivary cortisol were 23.53% higher (Experiment 2) - compared to participants whose monetary value of time was not made chronically salient. We suggest several possible mechanisms through which the economic evaluation of time may cause stress. A commodified view of time can increase impatience and make someone feel pressured to "use time wisely. And thinking of time like money can diminish the meaning of a person's work and psychological attachment to the job, thereby making tasks more stressful. Thus, increasingly common work arrangements that commodify time may increase stress.


Acute Aerobic Exercise Hastens Emotional Recovery From a Subsequent Stressor

Emily Bernstein & Richard McNally

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Method: All of the participants (n = 95) completed 3 laboratory visits, each including 1 of 3 activities (i.e., cycling, resting, stretching), tests of working memory and attentional control, and an experimental stressor. Self-reported rumination after the stressor and the experience of positive and negative emotions throughout the study were recorded.

Results: In this within-subjects paradigm, as expected, higher rumination in response to the stressor predicted more persistent negative emotion afterward; this effect was attenuated only by prior acute aerobic exercise, in this case, cycling, both 5 min and 15 min poststressor. This effect was unrelated to physical fitness or cognitive performance. Physical fitness level did predict greater attentional control and the capacity to update working memory.

Conclusion: Acute aerobic exercise may facilitate subjective emotional recovery from a subsequent stressor and improve emotional flexibility.


Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial

Sudha Prathikanti et al.

PLoS ONE, March 2017

Methods: Investigators recruited 38 adults in San Francisco meeting criteria for major depression of mild-to-moderate severity, per structured psychiatric interview and scores of 14-28 on Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI). At screening, individuals engaged in psychotherapy, antidepressant pharmacotherapy, herbal or nutraceutical mood therapies, or mind-body practices were excluded. Participants were 68% female, with mean age 43.4 years (SD = 14.8, range = 22-72), and mean BDI score 22.4 (SD = 4.5). Twenty participants were randomized to 90-minute hatha yoga practice groups twice weekly for 8 weeks. Eighteen participants were randomized to 90-minute attention control education groups twice weekly for 8 weeks. Certified yoga instructors delivered both interventions at a university clinic. Primary outcome was depression severity, measured by BDI scores every 2 weeks from baseline to 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes were self-efficacy and self-esteem, measured by scores on the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES) and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) at baseline and at 8 weeks.

Results: In intent-to-treat analysis, yoga participants exhibited significantly greater 8-week decline in BDI scores than controls (p-value = 0.034). In sub-analyses of participants completing final 8-week measures, yoga participants were more likely to achieve remission, defined per final BDI score ? 9 (p-value = 0.018). Effect size of yoga in reducing BDI scores was large, per Cohen's d = -0.96 [95%CI, -1.81 to -0.12]. Intervention groups did not differ significantly in 8-week change scores for either the GSES or RSES.

Conclusion: In adults with mild-to-moderate major depression, an 8-week hatha yoga intervention resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity.


When Less is More: Effects of the Availability of Strategic Options on Regulating Negative Emotions

Yochanan Bigman, Gal Sheppes & Maya Tamir

Emotion, forthcoming

Research in several domains suggests that having strategic options is not always beneficial. In this paper, we tested whether having strategic options (vs. not) is helpful or harmful for regulating negative emotions. In 5 studies (N = 151) participants were presented with 1 or more strategic options prior to watching aversive images and using the selected strategic option. Across studies, we found that people reported less intense negative emotions when the strategy they used to regulate their emotions was presented as a single option, rather than as 1 of several options. This was regardless of whether people could choose between the options (Studies 3-5) or not (Studies 1, 2, and 4), and specific to negative (but not neutral) images (Study 5). A sixth study addressed an explanation based on demand characteristics, showing that participants expected to feel more positive when having more than 1 option. The findings indicate that having strategic options for regulating negative emotions can sometimes be costly.

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