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Confronting a Traumatic Event. Toward an Understanding of Inhibition and Disease

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Confronting a Traumatic Event. Toward an Understanding of Inhibition and Disease

Abstract

Examined whether writing about traumatic events would influence long-term measures of health as well as short-term indicators of physiological arousal and reports of negative moods in 46 introductory psychology students. Also examined were aspects of writing about traumatic events (i.e., cognitive, affective, or both) that were most related to physiological and self-report variables. Ss wrote about either personally traumatic life events or trivial topics on 4 consecutive days. In addition to health center records, physiological measures and self-reported moods and physical symptoms were collected throughout the experiment. Findings indicate that, in general, writing about both the emotions and facts surrounding a traumatic event was associated with relatively higher blood pressure and negative moods following the essays, but fewer health center visits in the 6 mo following the experiment. It is concluded that, although findings should be considered preliminary, they bear directly on issues surrounding catharsis, self-disclosure, and a general theory of psychosomatics based on behavioral inhibition. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... Though few studies focus on the content of online comments, Emotional Expression Writing, as a paradigm and a psychological therapeutic process, put forward by Pennebaker, has been much discussed (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986;Smyth & Pennebaker, 2008). The writing disclosure paradigm requires participants to write down their traumatic experiences. ...
... The writing disclosure paradigm requires participants to write down their traumatic experiences. Subjects feeling upset and painful at the time of writing also found it meaningful and valuable after a while (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986). Besides writing about personal experiences, there are also some interests in features of online commentary, especially commenting during different emotional states. ...
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... At the heart of the idea behind the LIWC is the role of so-called function words: words that do not represent content such as verbs, nouns, or adjectives but "are used to 'glue' other words together" [51]. In the 1980s, Pennebaker and colleagues first examined letters from depressed patients and showed the power of function words to predict depressive illness [52]. This initial finding was followed by others studying the question of how language is related to personality. ...
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Job advertisements are often worded in ways that might pose discrimination risks leading to the exclusion of certain groups of applicants, particularly in relation to their gender. Especially in male-dominated professions or leadership roles, the specific linguistic formulation of job postings acquires relevance if more women are to be attracted to apply. Various technologies have emerged that offer automated text screening, some of them even suggesting alternative formulations to increase gender inclusivity. In this study we analyze four software providers on the German market using a corpus of ∼160, 000 job ads from three different platforms. We identify the relevant social psychological research on gender and language that is at the scientific core of these technologies. We show that, despite sharing a common foundation, the four tools assess the potential for exclusion in job postings in a considerably divergent way on multiple levels of comparison. We discuss the levers in the software pipeline of all four technologies, as well as the potential effect of certain implementation decisions, such as string-based vs. semantic approaches to computational processing of natural language. We argue that the ‘technological translation’ of research is extremely involved and further studies of its use in practice are needed to assess the potential for more gender equality.
... Research has explored whether expressive writing, or free writing about one's inner emotional state (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986), before testing can reduce worries and improve performance. Compared to those who do not write or write about non-emotional content, expressive writing yields fewer worries and diminished anxiety (see Frattaroli, 2006), and expressive writing prior to a high-anxiety test resulted in better performance for adolescents and adults (Ramirez & Beilock, 2011;Frattaroli, Thomas, & Lyubomirsky, 2011). ...
... Thoughts may be tied to one's external environment or be relatively independent of it, usually in the case of mind wandering (Smallwood & Schooler, 2015). The content and valence of thoughts have been shown to be associated with changes in mood and mental health (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010;Pennebaker & Beall, 1986;Seligman et al., 2005). The temporal aspect of thoughts, that is, whether they are focused on the past, present, or future, have also been associated with the affect and meaningfulness of those thoughts. ...
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Research has consistently shown differences in affect and cognition after exposure to different physical environments. The time course of these differences emerging or fading during exploration of environments is less explored, as most studies measure dependent variables only before and after environmental exposure. In this within-subject study, we used repeated surveys to measure differences in thought content and affect throughout a one-hour environmental exploration of a nature conservatory and a large indoor mall. At each survey, participants reported on aspects of their most recent thoughts (e.g., thinking of the present moment vs. the future; thinking positively vs. negatively) and state affect. Using Bayesian multi-level models, we found that while visiting the conservatory, participants were more likely to report thoughts about the past, more positive and exciting thoughts, and higher feelings of positive affect and creativity. In the mall, participants were more likely to report thoughts about the future and higher feelings of impulsivity. Many of these differences in environments were present throughout the one-hour walk, however some differences were only evident at intermediary time points, indicating the importance of collecting data during exploration, as opposed to only before and after environmental exposures. We also measured cognitive performance with a dual n-back task. Results on 2-back trials replicated results from prior work that interacting with nature leads to improvements in working-memory performance. This study furthers our understanding of how thoughts and feelings are influenced by the surrounding physical environment and has implications for the design and use of public spaces.
... However, our results also show that not only during lockdown did creativity take on this function: our respondents described the use of narration (writing, novels, diaries, poems, and musical texts) precisely with the aim of understanding the meaning of difficult experiences in the wide course of their lives. Furthermore, in addition to supporting the idea that creativity can have a meaning-making function, our findings also support the vast literature on the narrative function of activating meaning-making, as well as cognitive and emotional restructuring [57,58,[61][62][63]. ...
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The study focuses on identifying the impacts of the COVID experience on young people and exploring whether, during the pandemic period, adolescents and young adults resorted to flexible and creative coping strategies, which may have served as resources. The participants consisted of 70 Italian freshmen (18 males and 52 females) aged 18 to 21, attending their first year of university. Adopting a narrative approach, we identified seven creativity functions and two interpretative factors, supporting the idea that creativity may have constituted a psychological resource for young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the findings suggest that creativity can be configured as an identity attractor. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
... The academic population has been a target of WBIs studies using varied formats. Pennebaker and Beall (1986) had students write about traumatic life events for 4 consecutive days, which they called the expressive writing (EW) paradigm, resulting in fewer health center visits in the 6 months following the experiment. Similarly, Robertson et al. (2019) managed to reduce depression using EW instructions applied to students transitioning to college with mild to severe symptoms. ...
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Empathy is the ability to perceive and understand others' emotional states generating a similar mental state in the self. Previous behavioural studies have shown that self-reflection can enhance the empathic process. The present event-related poten-tials' study aims to investigate whether self-reflection, elicited by an introspective self-narrative task, modulates the neuronal response to eye expressions and improves the accuracy of empathic process. The 29 participants included in the final sample were divided into two groups: an introspection group (IG) (n = 15), who received an introspective writing task, and a control group (CG) (n = 14), who completed a not-introspective writing task. For both groups, the electroencephalographic and behavioural responses to images depicting eye expressions taken from the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Theory of Mind test were recorded pre-(T0) and post-(T1) 7 days of writing. The main result showed that only the IG presented a different P300 amplitude in response to eye expressions at T1 compared to T0 on the left centre-frontal montage. No significant results on accuracy at T1 compared to T0 were found. These findings seem to suggest that the introspective writing task modulates attention and implicit evaluation of the socio-emotional stimuli. Results are discussed with reference to the hypothesis that such neuronal modulation is linked to an increase in the embodied simulation process underlying affective empathy.
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Proposes a model of the relationship between traumatic experience and psychosomatic disease, which includes the following propositions: (1) To actively inhibit one's behavior is stressful and disease-related. (2) When individuals do not or cannot express thoughts and feelings concerning a traumatic event (i.e., behavioral inhibition), there is an increased probability of obsessing about the event as well as long-term illness consequences. (3) The act of confiding or otherwise translating the event into language reduces autonomic activity (in the short run) and disease rates. How the event is discussed, the possibility of ever coming to terms with the event, and the ultimate consequences of discussing the experience are all variables that may influence the outcome of confiding, inhibition, and, ultimately, health. Experimental research is cited in support of the model. (French abstract) (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Evaluated the effect of catharsis on the outcome of brief psychotherapy. 22 University Health Service patients were treated with emotive psychotherapy and compared with 21 others treated with insight-oriented analytic therapy. Outcome data consisted of change on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory scales of Depression, Psychasthenia, and Schizophrenia; change in comfort with affect, measured by Hamsher's Test of Emotional Styles; ratings of change in personal satisfaction; and progress toward behaviorally defined goals. The emotive Ss experienced significantly more catharsis, and high-catharsis patients changed significantly more on behavioral goals and showed a trend toward greater improvement in personal satisfaction. Findings confirm the effectiveness of emotive psychotherapy in producing catharsis and tend to validate the hypothesis that catharsis leads to therapeutic improvement. (47 ref)