Attributional and emotional responses to socially ambiguous cues: Validation of a new assessment of social/emotional information processing in healthy adults and impulsive aggressive patients

Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, The Pritzker School of Medicine, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 3.96). 05/2009; 43(10):915-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.01.012
Source: PubMed


A self-report questionnaire was developed to assess attributional and emotional responses to aversive, but socially ambiguous, actions by one or more provocateurs. Multiple vignettes were developed and were followed by questions related to attribution of the provocateur's intent and the subject's emotional response to the provocateur's actions. The resulting social information processing-attribution and emotional response questionnaire (SIP-AEQ) was administered to 923 community-based adults (ages 18-45). Factor analysis revealed a three-factor structure reflecting hostile attribution, instrumental attribution, and benign attribution to provocation. A cross-validational study substantiated the factor structure. The modified 8-vignette SIP-AEQ demonstrated good internal reliability, and convergent and discriminant validity. The hostile attribution items showed a significant relationship with measures of emotion processing and responsiveness. Further analysis in a sample of impulsive aggressive patients and healthy control subjects noted similar psychometric properties and good separation between groups. Implications regarding the cognitive and emotional correlates of aggression are discussed.

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Available from: Emil F Coccaro, Oct 26, 2015
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    • "In any 12-month period, approximately 3.9% of U.S. adults meet criteria for IED (Kessler et al., 2006). People with IED, compared to those without IED, have higher levels of anger (McCloskey, Berman, Noblett, & Coccaro, 2006), make more hostile attributions when confronted with socially ambiguous cues (Coccaro, Noblett, & McCloskey, 2009), and exhibit stronger amygdala activation in response to provocation (McCloskey, Phan, Angstadt, & Coccaro, in press). Compared to people without IED, people with IED are prone to engage in relational aggression (Murray-Close, Ostrov, Nelson, Crick, & Coccaro, 2010), impulsive verbal aggression (McCloskey, Lee, Berman, Noblett, & Coccaro, 2008), aggressive driving (Galovski, Blanchard, & Veazey, 2002), and physical violence (Coccaro et al., 1998). "

    Encyclopedia of media violence., Edited by M. S. Eastin, 10/2013: chapter Psychopathology and susceptibility to violence.; Sage.
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    • "Faces, irrespective of emotion displayed, have specialized brain regions associated with their perception (Kesler-West et al., 2001; Narumoto et al., 2001; Vuilleumier et al., 2001; Britton et al., 2006; Tsao et al., 2006; Tsao and Livingston, 2008) and are restricted in how the displayed emotion is interpreted by healthy individuals (Calder et al., 2001) and should therefore be viewed as a " special case " of threat perception rather than a general exemplar (Britton et al., 2006). In contrast, many nonface stimuli could be described as " threat-ambiguous " in that they are open to subjective interpretation, based on previous experience, personality traits (Gard and Kring, 2009), and state levels of cognitive and autonomic arousal (VaezMousavi et al., 2007; Coccaro et al., 2009). Hence, for the " picture " condition in the current study, we used non-face stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Subjective assessment of emotional valence is typically associated with both brain activity and autonomic arousal. Accurately assessing emotional salience is particularly important when perceiving threat. We sought to characterize the neural correlates of the interaction between behavioral and autonomic responses to potentially threatening visual and auditory stimuli. Twenty-five healthy male subjects underwent fMRI scanning whilst skin conductance responses (SCR) were recorded. One hundred and eighty pictures, sentences, and sounds were assessed as "harmless" or "threatening." Individuals' stimulus-locked, phasic SCRs and trial-by-trial behavioral assessments were entered as regressors into a flexible factorial design to establish their separate autonomic and behavioral neural correlates, and convolved to examine psycho-autonomic interaction (PAI) effects. Across all stimuli, "threatening," compared with "harmless" behavioral assessments were associated with mainly frontal and precuneus activation with specific within-modality activations including bilateral parahippocampal gyri (pictures), bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and frontal pole (sentences), and right Heschl's gyrus and bilateral temporal gyri (sounds). Across stimulus modalities SCRs were associated with activation of parieto-occipito-thalamic regions, an activation pattern which was largely replicated within-modality. In contrast, PAI analyses revealed modality-specific activations including right fusiform/parahippocampal gyrus (pictures), right insula (sentences), and mid-cingulate gyrus (sounds). Phasic SCR activity was positively correlated with an individual's propensity to assess stimuli as "threatening." SCRs may modulate cognitive assessments on a "harmless-threatening" dimension, thereby modulating affective tone and hence behavior.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2012; 6:349. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00349 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Scores for the two emotional response items were summed across vignettes to yield an overall emotional reactivity score. Previous research has documented the favorable psychometric properties of this measure, including factor structure, reliability, and convergent and discriminant validity (Coccaro et al., 2009). These response items were adapted from similar items currently being used in assessments in the laboratory of "
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    ABSTRACT: The psychometric properties of a recently introduced adult self-report of relational aggression are presented. Specifically, the predictive utility of proactive and reactive peer-directed relational aggression, as well as romantic relational aggression, are explored in a large (N=1387) study of adults. The measure had adequate reliability and validity and the subscales demonstrated unique predictive abilities for a number of dependent variables. In particular, reactive but not proactive relational aggression was uniquely associated with history of abuse, hostile attribution biases, and feelings of distress regarding relational provocation situations. Reactive relational aggression was also more strongly related to anger and hostility than proactive aggression. In addition, relational aggression in the context of romantic relationships was uniquely related to anger, hostility, impulsivity, history of abuse, hostile attribution biases, and emotional sensitivity to relational provocations, even when controlling for peer-directed relational aggression. Gender differences in overall levels of relational aggression were not observed; however, males were most likely to engage in peer-directed proactive and reactive relational aggression whereas females were most likely to engage in romantic relational aggression. In a second study (N=150), relational aggression was higher in a sample of adults with Intermittent Explosive Disorder than in a sample of healthy controls or psychiatric controls. The findings highlight the importance of assessing subtypes of relational aggression in adult samples. Ways in which this measure may extend research in psychology and psychiatry are discussed.
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