Current Opinion in Psychology

Print ISSN: 2352-250X
Insecurely attached people have relatively unhappy and unstable romantic relationships, but the quality of their relationships depends on how their partners regulate them. Some partners find ways to regulate the emotional and behavioral reactions of insecurely attached individuals, which promotes greater relationship satisfaction and security. We discuss attachment theory and interdependence dilemmas, and then explain how and why certain responses by partners assuage the cardinal concerns of insecure individuals in key interdependent situations. We then review recent studies illustrating how partners can successfully regulate the reactions of anxiously and avoidantly attached individuals, yielding more constructive interactions. We finish by considering how these regulation processes can create a more secure dyadic environment, which helps to improve relationships and attachment security across time.
People who are more securely attached to close partners show health benefits, but the mechanisms underlying this link are not well specified. We focus on physiological pathways that are potential mediators of the connection between attachment in childhood and adulthood and health and disease outcomes. Growing evidence indicates that attachment insecurity (vs. security) is associated with distinctive physiological responses to stress, including responses involving the HPA, SAM and immune systems, but these responses vary with type of stressor (e.g., social/nonsocial) and contextual factors (e.g., partner's attachment style). Taking this more nuanced perspective will be important for understanding the conditions under which attachment shapes health-related physiological processes as well as downstream health and disease consequences.
A large existing literature has established that children's emotion regulation (ER) behaviors and capacities emerge from within the parent-child relationship. This review identified very recently published studies that exemplify contemporary themes in this area of research. Specifically, new research suggests that the influence of fathers, above and beyond that of mothers, becomes more pronounced across development. Further, culture influences how parents socialize emotion and how specific parenting behaviors relate to children's developing ER. Lastly, studies find child-elicited effects, such that children's ER predicts parents' emotion socialization and other relevant behaviors. We suggest several future directions, including understanding the nature of situations that elicit ER patterns, as well as both expanding upon and integrating the areas highlighted in the review.
The specific pathways through which close relationships promote optimal well-being are not well understood. We describe a model (building on attachment theory's notion of safe haven and secure base support) that explains how close relationships promote thriving. This model defines thriving, identifies distinct contexts through which individuals may thrive (life adversity and life opportunities for growth), describes two distinct social support functions in close relationships that promote thriving (source of strength support and relational catalyst support), and identifies mediators through which relational support leads to long-term thriving.
Depression is defined as a mood condition. One key problem in depression's clinical description is determining how persistent mood changes influence emotional reactivity to ongoing environmental stimuli. Repeatedly, depressed individuals have been observed to exhibit diminished reactivity to change in the emotional context. These observations have spawned a theory called emotion context insensitivity (ECI). In this article we: (1) discuss the genesis of ECI theory, (2) consider recent convergent and divergent evidence that bears on ECI and related constructs, (3) sketch a synthesis out of these observations, and (4) outline several future directions that will consolidate our understanding of emotional functioning in depression.
The focus of this chapter is a detailed case example that illustrates the application of cognitive-behavioral couples therapy (CBCT), with a distressed couple. This chapter briefly describes the central concepts and methods of(CBCT). Other topics discussed include: principles and methods of cognitive-behavioral couple therapy; assessment of presenting problems and relationship history; setting treatment goals and structuring the therapy; cognitive and behavioral interventions; and conclusions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Time is a network good: the value of time depends on whether others also have it. We can deepen our understanding of time from a comparison with other network goods like personal computers, Facebook, and communications technology that derive their value from widely shared usage. We review recent research on the importance of collective social time with family and friends, and the role that temporal coordination plays in enhancing community ties and subjective well-being. The standard workweek is one of the most taken-for-granted institutions that creates effortless social coordination of time. The weekend provides people with collective time off that facilitates social interaction and leads to remarkable gains in emotional well-being. A breakdown in the temporal coordination of the standard workweek can have a negative impact on individuals, families, and communities. Future directions for research emphasize the importance of recognizing the network properties of time and its implications for society at large.
People often have difficulty making decisions that maximize well-being over time, and researchers have explored various reasons for why such poor `intertemporal' decision-making may arise. In this article, I review a body of work that has focused on how the relationship between current and future selves may influence judgments and decisions. Namely, I spotlight research suggesting that the future self is often thought of as another person and how feelings about this `other' person impact decisions across domains. I then review two insights gleaned from this research: in order to positively modify long-term decision-making, interventions may wish to focus on (1) strengthening the felt bond between current and future selves, or (2) reducing the subjective pain of sacrifices made by the current self. I close with several questions future research may wish to address.
Separate literatures exist on social power, status, and hierarchy on the one hand, and the self on the other, but important points of intersection have emerged over the past several decades. This paper reviews recent developments at the interface between social power (and related constructs) and the self. These developments orbit around two broad questions. First, how does social power influence self-expression (e.g. does power enhance or diminish subjective feelings of authenticity)? And second, does social power shift one's orientation toward the self or toward others (e.g. does power lead people to construe the self in more independent or interdependent terms)? I conclude by suggesting possible future directions on the link between social power and self-related processes and phenomena.
Humans are particularly drawn to social connections. Prosociality in times of loss and separation require intervention designs aimed at reinforcing social bonds to help those grieving. Pro-social behaviors reinforce social support, contributes to resilience, and promotes mental health, overall wellbeing and quality of life. This review summarizes multidisciplinary evidence from literature showing emerging trends in prosocial behavior, loss and separation research with adaptive pro-social interventions to promote resilience contributing to mental wellbeing and quality of life outcomes. A summary of research findings showing the digital transformation to promote pro-social behaviors for mental wellbeing is provided. Finally, new and classic evidence of prosocial behaviors for adaptation and resilience in the community is discussed to promote future prosociality in loss and separation.
While conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are proliferating, their impact on health-related responses during the present pandemic is not yet fully understood. We meta-analyzed correlational and longitudinal evidence from 53 studies (N = 78,625) conducted in 2020 and 2021. Conspiracy beliefs were weakly associated with more reluctance toward prevention measures both cross-sectionally and over time. They explained lower vaccination and social distancing responses but were unrelated to mask wearing and hygiene responses. Conspiracy beliefs showed an increasing association with prevention responses as the pandemic progressed and explained support for alternative treatments lacking scientific bases (e.g., chloroquine treatment, complementary medicine). Despite small and heterogenous effects, at a large scale, conspiracy beliefs are a non-negligeable threat to public health.
This paper reports on the first meta-analysis of studies on the association between government-imposed social restrictions and mental health outcomes published during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-three studies (N=131,844) were included. Social restrictions were significantly associated with increased mental health symptoms overall (d=.41 [CI 95% .17 – .65]), including depression (d=.83 [CI 95% .30–1.37]), stress (d=.21 [CI 95% .01–.42]) and loneliness (d=.30 [CI 95% .07–.52]), but not anxiety (d=.26 [CI 95% -.04–.56]). Subgroup analyses demonstrated that the strictness and length of restrictions had divergent effects on mental health outcomes, but there are concerns regarding study quality. The findings provide critical insights for future research on the effects of COVID-19 social restrictions.
Many of life’s most impactful experiences involve either social safety (e.g., acceptance, affiliation, belonging, inclusion) or social threat (e.g., conflict, isolation, rejection, exclusion). According to Social Safety Theory, these experiences greatly impact human health and behavior because a fundamental goal of the brain and immune system is to keep the body biologically safe. To achieve this crucial goal, social threats likely gained the ability to activate anticipatory neural-immune responses that would have historically benefited reproduction and survival; the presence of social safety, in turn, likely dampened these responses. Viewing positive and negative social experiences through this lens affords a biologically based evolutionary account for why certain stressors are particularly impactful. It also provides an integrated, multi-level framework for investigating the biopsychosocial roots of psychopathology, health disparities, aging, longevity, and interpersonal cognition and behavior. Ultimately, this work has the potential to inform new strategies for reducing disease risk and promoting resilience.
The COVID pandemic, and actions taken by governments worldwide to deal with it, have placed stress on couple relationships. Reports from many countries have documented substantial increases in relationship difficulties, conflict and violence. We propose that issues concerning autonomy and connection are central to these problems, particularly as couples face changing situations with regard to lockdowns, social distancing, and border closures. We further propose that a fruitful approach to understanding these difficulties comes from integrating attachment theory with key concepts of stress and coping theories. Based on these principles and concepts, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) offers guidelines to help couples navigate the multiple stressors associated with the pandemic.
The broad isolation, separation and loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic raises risks for couples’ relationship quality and stability. Guided by the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model, we suggest that how pandemic-related loss, isolation, and separation impacts couples’ relationships will vary depending on the amount and severity of pandemic-related stress, together with enduring personal vulnerabilities (e.g., attachment insecurity), both of which can disrupt adaptive dyadic responses to these challenges. A review of emerging research examining relationship functioning prior to and during the initial stages of the pandemic offers support for this framework. We draw upon additional research to suggest pathways for mitigating relationship disruptions and promoting resilience.
Adolescent pregnancy and early motherhood pose significant socioeconomic and health risks in Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to considerable morbidity and mortality. To learn more about the needs of this population, we reviewed 24 articles featuring 21 samples covering 12,490 adolescents from 14 countries. Our coding revealed that adolescent mothers were studied more (85.7% of samples) than pregnant adolescents (61.9%). We summarized needs according to six categories. Resource needs were most prevalent, reported by 100% of samples, followed by ecology (85.7%), mental health (76.2%), medical (61.9%), other (61.9%), and education (33.3%). The most frequently reported resource needs were low income and unemployment. Low social support, low family functioning, and exposure to negative cultural norms were ecological needs prevalent in the majority of samples. Among mental health concerns, depression was the most commonly reported problem, whereas other problems, such as anxiety, substance-use, and suicidality were reported much less frequently. HIV-positive status was the most frequently reported medical concern. Intervention developers should consider the range of challenges when designing psychosocial services for this population.
The field of couple therapy – one of the most widely sought and practiced modality of therapy – has been revolutionized by the emergence of attachment science in the 21st century. We now understand not only the centrality of close relationships for human health and wellbeing, but also that the key to a healthy happy relationship is a secure attachment bond. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an attachment-based approach that aims to help couples create a secure attachment bond. Several outcome studies have shown that EFT helps to not only alleviate relationship distress but individual co-morbidities as well, with positive follow-up effects. EFT appears to help couples not only improve their relationships but also access the optimal resilience and wellbeing secure attachment allows.
In this work, we discuss through lens of the 3N model of radicalization vulnerability to conspiracy beliefs and the factors which contribute to acting upon such beliefs. After discussing the numerous empirically supported precursors to conspiracy beliefs, we integrate them within the 3N framework, positing that belief in conspiracy theories are particularly suited to satisfy the need for significance through the incitation to violence against an alleged enemy. Conspiracy theories highlight for believers their grievance and a culprit responsible for that grievance who needs to be defeated. They also isolate individuals from non-believing friends and family while bringing them closer to a community of other believers – a network which validates the narrative and rewards those who act upon it.
Abstract constructs such as morality, warmth, and competence are the bread and butter of social psychology. Their antecendents and consequences have been explored frequently using semantic priming, in keeping with early models of memory representation as a semantic network of concept nodes. Contrary to what these models would predict, sensorimotor experiences in multiple modalities have proven capable of activating abstract constructs, even if they are no more than metaphorically related. In this paper, I review illustrative evidence for multimodal priming of abstract constructs through embodied metaphors. This work has implications for debates about the activation of mental content and the form of mental representation. It also highlights the need to address several thorny issues for theoretical advances.
Scientists have been warning the world of the threatening consequences of climate change for decades. Yet, only a few countries have made climate change mitigation a priority. One of the chief issues regarding climate change is its abstractness: consequences for the collective in the long-term are much more abstract than consequences for the self in the here-and-now. To combat climate change, individuals, communities, and governments must work together to reduce the psychological distance of climate change and designate the future of the planet as the prime concern.
Chronic pain is an international health issue that is influenced by both physical and psychological factors. This article outlines the benefits and complications of opioid medications in chronic pain treatment and explores the roles of negative affect and craving in exacerbating chronic noncancer pain. The role of psychiatric comorbidity and use of validated assessment tools helpful in identifying those individuals who are at greatest risk for opioid misuse are discussed. Additionally, interventional treatment strategies for chronic pain patients who are at risk for opioid misuse are presented. Specific behavioral interventions are also reviewed such as frequent monitoring, motivational counseling, periodic urine screens and opioid checklists designed to improve compliance with prescription opioids among persons treated for chronic pain.
Exposure to early-life adversity (ELA) is associated with elevated risk for depression and anxiety disorders in adolescence. Identifying mechanisms through which ELA contributes to the emergence of depression and anxiety is necessary to design preventive interventions. One potential mechanism linking exposure to ELA with psychopathology is accelerated pubertal development. Exposure to trauma—specifically interpersonal violence—is associated with earlier pubertal timing, which in turn predicts adolescent-onset depression and anxiety disorders. We review the recent literature on adversity and accelerated pubertal development, exploring specific associations between trauma and accelerated pubertal development as a mechanism linking adversity with depression and anxiety disorders in adolescence. Finally, we suggest future directions for research exploring mechanisms linking ELA with accelerated pubertal development as well as pubertal timing and psychopathology in adolescence.
There is mounting anecdotal evidence that some individuals fall into conspiracy ‘rabbit holes’ causing harms ranging from social isolation to violence. We propose a hypothetical Rabbit Hole Syndrome in which some individuals’ subscription to conspiracy beliefs is initially inadvertent, accelerates recursively, then becomes difficult to escape. This proposal is distinguished by a person-centred and dynamic perspective on conspiracy beliefs. It aims to provide a theoretical foundation for research that (a) illuminates the rabbit hole phenomenon, (b) is pluralistic, spanning diverse subdisciplines (e.g., social and clinical psychology) and methods (e.g., qualitative, longitudinal, and case studies), and (c) informs theory and practice by uncovering discontinuities between committed believers and other populations in the causes, consequences, and ‘remedies’ of conspiracy beliefs.
Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) is a life-span theory of motivation grounded in the subjective awareness of human mortality. The cardinal postulate is that time horizons shape the relative priority placed on emotionally meaningful and knowledge-seeking goals. Because goals are always set in temporal contexts, and time left in life is inversely related to chronological age, SST predicts systematic age differences in goal pursuit. The theory has garnered considerable empirical support. In this paper, we consider the role of age-related time acceleration on goal setting and argue that it may interact with the more gradual age-related changes in time horizons presumed in SST. If so, the favoring of emotionally meaningful goals may follow an exponential (as opposed to linear) function across adulthood.
Since mindfulness- and acceptance-based practice models were first conceptualized and applied in sport in an attempt to enhance performance and overall well-being of athletes and performers, these state-of-the-art theoretical and practice models have substantially broadened our knowledge base and have been successfully incorporated into sport and performance practice domains worldwide. Evolving from a sound empirical foundation, mindfulness- and acceptance-based models in sport psychology have accumulated a strong basic and applied empirical foundation. In the nearly 20 years since their incorporation in the context of sport, empirical findings have demonstrated efficacious outcomes associated with performance and personal well-being, as well as supported their theorized mechanisms of change. Particularly as sport and performance environments increasingly call upon practitioners to provide more comprehensive care to clientele, including a range of care from performance enhancement and maintenance, to general personal well-being, to subclinical and clinical issues, mindfulness- and acceptance-based practitioners have the tools to offer robust, empirically informed interventions that can enhance skills and quality of life, and/or ameliorate personal struggles.
Over the last more than four decades, several theoretical models have been developed to understand the acceptance and use of information systems. Realising the dilemma in selecting the appropriate theoretical model to assess the acceptance and use of technology and considering the pattern of using the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), a modified version (meta-UTAUT) has been developed based on the synthesis of results from 162 existing studies. The aim of this article is to review the emerging literature on meta-UTAUT and offer some future research recommendations. The analysis suggests that studies have started citing the relationships suggested by meta-UTAUT and researchers have reviewed it alongside other alternative models while analysing acceptance and use of technology.
Chronic medical illnesses often require a high level of self-management, which can be challenging, particularly over extended periods. The challenge is accentuated by comorbid depression or anxiety, which interfere with motivation and drive. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an empirically based behavioral intervention aimed at helping individuals develop greater psychological flexibility in the face of life's challenges. It provides a unified model of behavior change and has shown promise in treating depression and anxiety, as well as chronic medical conditions. Importantly, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has been effectively implemented in various formats, including 1-day group workshops, well-suited for dissemination into medical settings. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of studies of 1-day group workshops in medical populations and suggest future directions for further development of this promising area.
Experiential acceptance—an orientation of receptivity and noninterference with present-moment experiences—is described as central to mindfulness interventions, yet little experimental work has tested acceptance as a mechanism for mindfulness intervention effects. Guided by Monitor and Acceptance Theory (MAT), this review situates acceptance as an emotion regulation mechanism and reviews self-report mindfulness literature showing that attention monitoring skills are only associated with beneficial mental and physical health outcomes when accompanied by acceptance skills. New experimental dismantling work shows that removing acceptance training from mindfulness interventions reduces their efficacy for improving stress, positive emotion, and social relationship outcomes. Overall, converging evidence demonstrates that acceptance is a critical emotion regulation mechanism of mindfulness interventions. This work advances basic research, has translational value, and offers opportunities for future research.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has shown initial promise as a feasible and acceptable treatment for smoking cessation. Research on the role of experiential avoidance (EA) for smoking cessation provides basic support for ACT as a treatment for smoking. The current review summarizes recent literature on ACT for smoking cessation as well as the relation between smoking-specific EA and smoking. Findings related to avoidant and inflexible smoking behavior are highlighted as candidate mechanisms by which ACT may offer therapeutic benefit for smoking cessation. Future directions highlight the need for further research on ACT for smoking cessation as well as the role of smoking-specific EA in smoking behavior more generally.
Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACTraining) aims to improve performance and reduce stress for workers by supporting the development of psychological flexibility at the jobsite. Psychological flexibility is the ability to be in the current moment, mindfully aware of thoughts and emotions, and committed to valued goals. ACTraining is based on the six interactive processes highlighted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy — contacting the present moment, acceptance, defusion, perspective taking, values clarification, and committed action — and has been efficacious in many occupational environments. This paper will review the principles of ACTraining and psychological flexibility, and survey the literature of this effective consulting approach.
Within the past decade, empirical evidence has emerged supporting the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) targeting shame and self-stigma. Little is known about the role of self-compassion in ACT, but evidence from other approaches indicates that self-compassion is a promising means of reducing shame and self-criticism. The ACT processes of defusion, acceptance, present moment, values, committed action, and self-as-context are to some degree inherently self-compassionate. However, it is not yet known whether the self-compassion inherent in the ACT approach explains ACT's effectiveness in reducing shame and stigma, and/or whether focused self-compassion work may improve ACT outcomes for highly self-critical, shame-prone people. We discuss how ACT for shame and stigma may be enhanced by existing approaches specifically targeting self-compassion.
Anchoring denotes assimilation of judgment toward a previously considered value — an anchor. The selective accessibility model argues that anchoring is a result of selective accessibility of information compatible with an anchor. The present review shows the similarities between anchoring and knowledge accessibility effects. Both effects depend on the applicability of the accessible information, which is also used similarly. Furthermore, both knowledge accessibility and anchoring influence the time needed for the judgment and both display temporal robustness. Finally, we offer recent evidence for the selective accessibility model and demonstrate how the model can be applied to reducing the anchoring effect.
Classic and contemporary approaches to understanding political judgment implicitly acknowledged the role of chronic accessibility. Contemporary models also emphasize that situationally primed knowledge structures influence citizens' political attitudes and opinions. Priming effects are evident when specific concepts are primed (e.g., an issue, the American Flag, terrorism), and when media frames activate narratives that prime specific aspects of a political event. Metaphoric media frames (e.g., the presidential campaign is a horserace) can prime or highlight specific aspects of a political event (e.g., candidate electability) and thereby influence the public's attitudes and opinion (e.g., attitudes toward a political candidate). The immediate context in which political judgments are reported also produces priming effects on political judgment.
Executive functions are core to multiple aspects of daily cognitive, social and affective functioning. An extensive body of work has charted developmental trajectories and neural substrates of executive functions through the lifespan. Robust associations between executive functions early in life and later wellbeing and success, has led to considerable efforts to improve executive functions through bespoke interventions. Here we discuss recent findings on the role of cost-benefit computations in how executive functions are deployed in development. We propose leveraging these insights to design more effective interventions for improving executive functions.
Covert spatial attention allows us to prioritize visual processing at relevant locations. A fast growing literature suggests that alpha-band (8–12 Hz) oscillations play a key role in this core cognitive process. It is clear that alpha-band activity tracks both the locus and timing of covert spatial orienting. There is limited evidence, however, for the widely embraced view that alpha oscillations suppress irrelevant visual information during spatial selection. Extant evidence is equally compatible with an account in which alpha activity enables spatial selection through signal enhancement rather than distractor suppression. Thus, more work is needed to characterize the computational role of alpha activity in spatial attention.
The theory of situated conceptualization is introduced, including its core assumptions about the construction and storage of situated conceptualizations, the production of pattern completion inferences in relevant situations, and the implementation of these inferences via multimodal simulation. The broad applicability of the theory to many phenomena is reviewed, as is its ability to explain individual differences. The theory is then applied to social priming, showing that the theory provides a natural account of the diverse forms it takes. The theory also explains why social priming is difficult to define, why it often reflects modulating factors, and why it can be difficult to replicate. The importance of studying pattern completion inferences in the context of meaningful situated action receives emphasis.
When making decisions, people tend to shift their attention back and forth between stimuli, choosing options that they look at more overall and immediately before their responses. These relationships, and others, are well-described by sequential sampling models that assume that evidence for a given alternative is collected over time in proportion to its subjective value, amplified by attention. Furthermore, findings from a number of studies support a causal effect of attention on choice. This research is mostly focused on two-alternative forced choice, though some work has confirmed these relationships in multi-attribute and multi-alternative choice. Finally, we discuss recent interest in understanding what drives attention during the choice process, with findings suggesting that attention is drawn to noisier and more salient stimuli in two-alternative choice, as well as higher-value options in multi-alternative choice.
Top-cited authors
Rebecca A Ferrer
  • National Institutes of Health
William MP Klein
  • National Institutes of Health
Matthew T Tull
  • University of Toledo
Arie W Kruglanski
  • University of Maryland, College Park
Rand D Conger
  • University of California, Davis