In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the complexity of theoretical models that attempt to explain behavior from both contextual and developmental perspectives. This increase in the complexity of our theoretical propositions regarding behavior parallels recent methodological advances for the analysis of change.These new analysis techniques have fundamentally altered how we conceptualize and study change. Researchers have begun to identify larger frameworks to integrate our knowledge regarding the analysis of change. One such framework is latent growth modeling, perhaps the most important and influential statistical revolution to have recently occurred in the social and behavioral sciences. This paper presents a basic introduction to a latent growth modeling approach for analyzing repeated measures data. Included is the specification and interpretation of the growth factors, primary extensions such as the analysis of growth in multiple populations, and structural models including both precursors of growth, and subsequent outcomes hypothesized to be influenced by the growth functions.
The notion of accessibility of mental representations has been invaluable in explaining and predicting human thought and action. Focusing on social cognition, we review the large corpus of data that has accumulated since the first models of mental activation dynamics were outlined. We then outline a framework that we call Relevance of a Representation (or ROAR for short), the main tenant of which is that not all stimulated representations are in fact activated (i.e., influence thought and action processes). More specifically, we propose that the degree to which a representation is available to processes of thought and action is a function of that representation's motivational relevance. We end by demonstrating how the framework enables re-addressing the notions of accessibility, automaticity and selective attention.
There are well documented links between close relationships and physical health, such that those who have supportive close relationships have lower rates of morbidity and mortality compared to those who do not. Inflammation is one mechanism that may help to explain this link. Chronically high levels of inflammation predict disease. Across the lifespan, people who have supportive close relationships have lower levels of systemic inflammation compared to people who have cold, unsupportive, conflict-ridden relationships. Not only are current relationships associated with inflammation, but past relationships are as well. In this article, we will first review the literature linking current close relationships across the lifespan to inflammation. We will then explore recent work showing troubled past relationships also have lasting consequence on people's inflammatory levels. Finally, we will explore developmental pathways that may explain these findings.
Despite widespread belief that moods are affected by the menstrual cycle, researchers on emotion and reward have not paid much attention to the menstrual cycle until recently. However, recent research has revealed different reactions to emotional stimuli and to rewarding stimuli across the different phases of the menstrual cycle. The current paper reviews the emerging literature on how ovarian hormone fluctuation during the menstrual cycle modulates reactions to emotional stimuli and to reward. Behavioral and neuroimaging studies in humans suggest that estrogen and progesterone have opposing influences. That is, it appears that estrogen enhances reactions to reward, but progesterone counters the facilitative effects of estrogen and decreases reactions to rewards. In contrast, reactions to emotionally arousing stimuli (particularly negative stimuli) appear to be decreased by estrogen but enhanced by progesterone. Potential factors that can modulate the effects of the ovarian hormones (e.g., an inverse quadratic function of hormones' effects; the structural changes of the hippocampus across the menstrual cycle) are also discussed.
The current review introduces a new program of research that suggests the perception of spatial layout is influenced by emotions. Though perceptual systems are often described as closed and insulated, this review presents research suggesting that a variety of induced emotions (e.g., fear, disgust, sadness) can produce changes in vision and audition. Thus, the perceptual system may be highly interconnected, allowing emotional information to influence perceptions that, in turn, influence cognition. The body of work presented here also suggests that emotion-based changes in perception help us solve particular adaptive problems because emotion does not change all perceptions of the world. Taking the adaptive significance of emotion into account allows us to make predictions about when and how emotion influences perception.
A growing body of literature supports a link between positive emotions and health in older adults. In this article, we review evidence of the effects of positive emotions on downstream biological processes and meaningful clinical endpoints, such as adult morbidity and mortality. We then present relevant predictions from lifespan theories that suggest changes in cognition and motivation may play an important role in explaining how positive emotions are well maintained in old age, despite pervasive declines in cognitive processes. We conclude by discussing how the application of psychological theory can inform greater understanding of the adaptive significance of positive emotions in adulthood and later life.
Models of racial attitudes traditionally have assumed that individual differences in the strength of underlying, 'implicit' associations between racial categories and stereotypical traits are the primary determinant of the expression of race bias. Thus, individual differences in performance on laboratory tasks designed to assess implicit race bias tend to be interpreted in terms of association strength. Here, we argue that such associations tell only part of the story, and probably the least interesting part. We posit that response conflict and its regulation are critical to understanding the need for control, and that affect-related processes help to determine the extent to which control resources will be implemented to overcome biased associations. We present data from a number of recent behavioral and psychophysiological studies in support of this idea, as well as conceptual accounts that point toward a model of race bias regulation that depends upon processes identified as important for regulation of thought, affect and action more generally.
The Cognitive-Affective Processing Systems or CAPS theory (Mischel & Shoda, 1995) was proposed to account for the processes that explain why and how people's behavior varies stably across situations. Research on Rejection Sensitivity is reviewed as a programmatic attempt to illustrate how personality dispositions can be studied within the CAPS framework. This research reveals an if … then … (e.g., if situation X, he does A, but if situation Y, he does B) pattern of rejection sensitivity such that high rejection sensitive people's goal to prevent rejection can lead to accommodating behavior; yet, the failure to achieve this goal can lead to aggression, reactivity, and lack of self-concept clarity. These situation-behavior relations or personality signatures reflect a stable activation network of distinctive personality processing dynamics. These dynamics link fears and expectations of rejection, perceptions/attributions of rejection, and affective/behavioral overreactions to perceived rejection. Self-regulatory and attentional mechanisms may interact with these dynamics as buffers against high rejection sensitivity, illustrating how multiple processes within a CAPS network play out in behavior.
People are inherently driven by the need to form and maintain relationships, and these affiliation goals can influence health behaviors in two ways: (a) indirectly, by increasing a person's attention to others and subsequently leaving them more likely to emulate the health behaviors of others (social contagion); (b) directly, by leading people to be more likely to engage in health behaviors they perceive as helping them to form and maintain relationships with others (self-initiated behavioral engagement). In this review, we discuss the evidence for the catalyzing role of affiliation goals in these two processes for a variety of positive (e.g., exercising, smoking-cessation) and detrimental health behaviors (e.g., binge drinking and eating, needle sharing). Additionally, we discuss individual difference factors that may temporarily or chronically activate affiliation goals and ultimately impact health behaviors. Affiliation goals hold many implications for future work, and for improving interventions.
There is little question of whether personality is associated with problematic alcohol involvement (such as alcohol use disorders; AUDs); it clearly is. However, the question remains: how or why is personality related to risky drinking and AUDs? To address this question, theoretical models have been posited regarding the causal effects of personality on alcohol use and related problems. In this article, several of these models are summarized and reviewed. Future research directions are discussed, including possible frameworks that serve to integrate various models of the personality-AUD relation.
A bidirectional association between mood disorders and cardiovascular disease has been described; however, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie this link have not been fully elucidated. The purpose of this review is first to describe some of the important behavioral neurobiological processes that are common to both mood and cardiovascular disorders. Second, this review focuses on the value of conducting research with animal models (primarily rodents) to investigate potential behavioral, physiological, and neural processes involved in the association of mood disorders and cardiovascular disease. In combination with findings from human research, the study of mechanisms underlying mood and cardiovascular regulation using animal models will enhance our understanding of the association of depression and cardiovascular disease, and can promote the development of novel interventions for individuals with these comorbid conditions.
We form first impressions from faces despite warnings not to do so. Moreover, there is considerable agreement in our impressions, which carry significant social outcomes. Appearance matters because some facial qualities are so useful in guiding adaptive behavior that even a trace of those qualities can create an impression. Specifically, the qualities revealed by facial cues that characterize low fitness, babies, emotion, and identity are overgeneralized to people whose facial appearance resembles the unfit (anomalous face overgeneralization), babies (babyface overgeneralization), a particular emotion (emotion face overgeneralization), or a particular identity (familiar face overgeneralization). We review studies that support the overgeneralization hypotheses and recommend research that incorporates additional tenets of the ecological theory from which these hypotheses are derived: the contribution of dynamic and multi-modal stimulus information to face perception; bidirectional relationships between behavior and face perception; perceptual learning mechanisms and social goals that sensitize perceivers to particular information in faces.
Research on psychological influences on physiology primarily focuses on biological responses during stressful challenges, and how those responses can become dysregulated with prolonged or repeated exposure to stressful circumstances. At the same time, humans spend considerable time recovering from those challenges, and a host of biological processes involved in restoration and repair take place during normal, non-stressed activities. We review restorative biological processes and evidence for links between psychosocial factors and several restorative processes including sleep, wound healing, antioxidant production, DNA repair, and telomerase function. Across these biological processes, a growing body of evidence suggests that experiencing negative emotional states, including acute and chronic stress, depressive symptoms, and individual differences in negative affectivity and hostility, can influence these restorative processes. This review calls attention to restorative processes as fruitful mechanisms and outcomes for future biobehavioral research.
The death of a parent is a profoundly stressful form of childhood adversity, increasing the short- and long-term risk of mental health problems. Emerging research suggests it may also disrupt biological regulatory systems and increase the risk of long-term physical health problems. This article presents a theoretical framework of the process by which the experience of parental death during childhood may influence mental and physical health outcomes over time. Drawing from a broad literature on adaptation following childhood parental loss, we focus on risk and protective factors in the childhood environment that are theoretically and empirically linked to emotional and biological regulatory responses to stress later in life, the effects of which may accumulate to impact long-term health.
The aim of this study is to examine existing research on social cognitive factors that may, in part, mediate the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We focus on how social status is 'carried' in the mental systems of individuals, and how these systems differentially affect CHD risk and associated behaviors. To this end, literatures documenting the association of various social cognitive factors (e.g., social comparison, perceived discrimination, and self-efficacy) with cardiovascular disease are reviewed as are literatures regarding the relationship of these factors to SES. Possible mechanisms through which social cognitions may affect health are addressed. In addition, directions for future research are discussed, and a model identifying the possible associations between social cognitive factors, SES, and coronary disease is provided.
People who are high in self-compassion treat themselves with kindness and concern when they experience negative events. The present article examines the construct of self-compassion from the standpoint of research on coping in an effort to understand the ways in which people who are high in self-compassion cope with stressful events. Self-compassionate people tend to rely heavily on positive cognitive restructuring but do not appear to differ from less self-compassionate people in the degree to which they cope through problem-solving and distraction. Existing evidence does not show clear differences in the degree to which people who are low vs. high in self-compassion seek support as a coping strategy, but more research is needed.
Many people have concealable stigmatized identities: Identities that can be hidden from others and that are socially devalued and negatively stereotyped. Understanding how these concealable stigmatized identities affect psychological well-being is critical. We present our model of the components of concealable stigmatized identities including valenced content - internalized stigma, experienced discrimination, anticipated stigma, disclosure reactions, and counter-stereotypic/positive information - and magnitude - centrality and salience. Research has shown that negatively valenced content is related to increased psychological distress. However, smaller identity magnitude may buffer this distress. We review the research available and discuss important areas for future work.
This article provides a selective review of the literature and current theories regarding the role of prefrontal cortex, along with some other critical brain regions, in emotion and motivation. Seemingly contradictory findings have often appeared in this literature. Research attempting to resolve these contradictions has been the basis of new areas of growth and has led to more sophisticated understandings of emotional and motivational processes as well as neural networks associated with these processes. Progress has, in part, depended on methodological advances that allow for increased resolution in brain imaging. A number of issues are currently in play, among them the role of prefrontal cortex in emotional or motivational processes. This debate fosters research that will likely lead to further refinement of conceptualizations of emotion, motivation, and the neural processes associated with them.
Accumulation of life stressors predicts accelerated development and progression of diseases of aging. Telomere length, the DNA-based biomarker indicating cellular aging, is a mechanism of disease development, and is shortened in a dose response fashion by duration and severity of life stressor exposures. Telomere length captures the interplay between genetics, life experiences and psychosocial and behavioral factors. Over the past several years, psychological stress resilience, healthy lifestyle factors, and social connections have been associated with longer telomere length and it appears that these factors can protect individuals from stress-induced telomere shortening. In the current review, we highlight these findings, and illustrate that combining these `multisystem resiliency' factors may strengthen our understanding of aging, as these powerful factors are often neglected in studies of aging. In naturalistic studies, the effects of chronic stress exposure on biological pathways are rarely main effects, but rather a complex interplay between adversity and resiliency factors. We suggest that chronic stress effects can be best understood by directly testing if the deleterious effects of stress on biological aging processes, in this case the cell allostasis measure of telomere shortening, are mitigated in individuals with high levels of multisystem resiliency. Without attending to such interactions, stress effects are often masked and missed. Taking account of the cluster of positive buffering factors that operate across the lifespan will take us a step further in understanding healthy aging. While these ideas are applied to the telomere length literature for illustration, the concept of multisystem resiliency might apply to aging broadly, from cellular to systemic health.
Marital separation and divorce are associated with increased risk for early death, and the magnitude of this association rivals that of many well-established public health factors. In the case of divorce, however, the mechanisms explaining precisely why and how some people are at risk for early death remain unclear. This paper reviews what is known about the association between divorce and risk for all-cause mortality, then discusses four emerging themes in this area of research: the biological intermediaries linking divorce to pathophysiology and disease onset, moving beyond the statistical mean, focusing research on the diathesis-stress model, and studying how opportunity foreclosures may place people on a trajectory toward poor distal health outcomes. These ideas are grounded in a set of public lay commentaries about the association between divorce and death; in this way, the paper seeks to integrate current research ideas with how the general public thinks about divorce and its correlates. Although this paper focuses on divorce, many of the emerging themes are applicable to the study of psychosocial stress and health more generally. Therefore, the study of divorce and death provides a good case study for health psychology and considers new questions that can be pursued in a variety of research areas.
Experience sampling methods are essential tools for building a modern idiographic approach to understanding personality. These methods yield multiple snapshots of people's experiences over time in daily life and allow researchers to identify patterns of behavior within a given individual, rather than strictly identify patterns of behavior across individuals, as with standard nomothetic approaches. In this article, we discuss the origin and evolution of idiographic methods in the field of personality and explain how experience sampling methods function as modern day idiographic methods in this field. We then review four primary ways in which experience sampling methods have been used to foster idiographic approaches in personality research. Specifically, we highlight approaches that examine individual differences in temporal and behavioral distributions, situation-behavior contingencies, daily processes, and the structure of daily experience. Following a brief methodology primer, we end by discussing future directions for idiographic experience sampling approaches in personality psychology and beyond.
In this paper, we link age differences in gaze patterns toward emotional stimuli to later mood outcomes. While one might think that looking at more positive emotional material leads to better moods, and looking at more negative material leads to worse moods, it turns out that links between emotional looking and mood depend on age as well as individual differences. Though older people can feel good by looking more at positive material, in some cases young adults actually feel better by engaging visually with the negative. These age effects are further moderated by attentional abilities. Such findings suggest that different age groups may use looking differently, and this may reflect their preferences for using distinct emotion regulatory strategies. This work also serves as a reminder that regulatory efforts are not always successful at improving mood.
Population-based studies of health typically focus on psychosocial contributors to illness and disease. We examine findings from a national longitudinal study of American adults, known as MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) to examine the role of psychosocial factors in promoting resilience, defined as the maintenance, recovery, or improvement in health following challenge. Classic studies of resilience are briefly noted, followed by a look at three categories of resilience in MIDUS. The first pertains to having good health and well-being in the face of low socioeconomic standing. The second pertains to maintaining good health and well-being despite the challenges that accompany aging. The third pertains to resilience in the face of targeted life challenges such as abuse in childhood, loss of spouse in adulthood, or having cancer. Across each area, we summarize evidence of positive health, and where possible, highlight protective influences that account for such salubrious outcomes. We conclude with opportunities for future research in MIDUS such as examining cultural and genetic influences on resilience as well as utilizing laboratory challenge data to illuminate underlying mechanisms.
Psychological stress is a major risk factor for the development and progression of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and major depression. A growing body of research suggests that long-term, stress-induced activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis may lead to increases in inflammation, which is known to play a key role in the pathophysiology of a variety of diseases. Furthermore, the burgeoning fields of social neuroscience and health neuroscience have begun to identify the neurocognitive mechanisms by which stress may lead to these physiological changes. Here we review the literature examining the neurocognitive correlates of stress-induced SNS, HPA, and inflammatory responses. Specifically, we summarize the results of neuroimaging studies that have examined the neural correlates of stress-related increases in SNS, HPA, and inflammatory activity. A set of neural systems involved in threat processing, safety processing, and social cognition are suggested as key contributors to stress-related changes in physiology. We conclude by offering suggestions for future research in the exciting new field of health neuroscience.
The classification of personality disorders is at a critical stage. The categorical model presented in the official diagnostic manual of mental disorders has serious limitations, and it is time for a shift to a dimensional model of personality disorder. Although the evidence in favor of switching to a dimensional model of personality disorder is compelling, the fields of clinical psychology and psychiatry have been reluctant to make the shift. We think some of this reluctance is due to a misunderstanding of the current state of dimensional models of personality and personality disorders. We address three major myths about dimensional models and provide responses to each.