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Emotion Reactivity and Regulation Are Associated With Psychological Functioning Following the 2011 Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Crisis in Japan

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Emotion Reactivity and Regulation Are Associated With Psychological Functioning Following the 2011 Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Crisis in Japan

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Frequent and successful use of cognitive reappraisal, an emotion regulation strategy that involves rethinking the meaning of an emotional event in order to change one's emotional response, has been linked in everyday life to positive outcomes such as higher well-being. Whether we should expect this association to be maintained in a strong, temporally and spatially close emotional context is an unexplored question that might have important implications for our understanding of emotion regulation and its relations to psychological functioning. In this study of members of the U. S. Embassy Tokyo community in the months following the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan, self-reported use of cognitive reappraisal was not related to psychological functioning, but demonstrated success using cognitive reappraisal to decrease feelings of unpleasantness in response to disaster-related pictures on a performance-based task was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress. Moreover, emotional reactivity to these pictures was associated with greater symptomatology. These results suggest that situational intensity may be an important moderator of reappraisal and psychological functioning relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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... In healthy adults who experienced increased stressor load or traumatic experiences, research is mixed, with four studies suggesting lower depressive symptomatology at higher observed trait PCR (Garnefski & Kraaij, 2006a;Gillanders et al., 2008;Mocan et al., 2018), and six studies not finding this relationship (Amstadter & Vernon, 2008;Cavanagh et al., 2014;Gärtner et al., 2019;Hopp et al., 2011;Kraaij, van der Veek, et al., 2008;Moore et al., 2008). Although overall related to lower depressive symptoms in an oppressed minority sample, frequent use of PCR was positively related to depressive symptoms in individuals who highly identified as belonging to an oppressed minority (Perez & Soto, 2011). ...
... Although overall related to lower depressive symptoms in an oppressed minority sample, frequent use of PCR was positively related to depressive symptoms in individuals who highly identified as belonging to an oppressed minority (Perez & Soto, 2011). Interestingly, in a study assessing both questionnaire PCR ( = observed trait PCR) and actual PCR success during an experimental task ( = observed situational PCR) in trauma-exposed participants, only PCR success was related to lower depressive symptoms (Cavanagh et al., 2014). Several studies by Troy and colleagues also measured PCR ability via task performance (i.e., the interindividual differences in successfully using PCR when instructed to do so) instead of a questionnaire measure of trait PCR. ...
... In individuals with high stressor load, the inverse relationship between PCR and depressive symptoms was most evident when investigating PCR ability, but less so when investigating questionnaire trait PCR (Cavanagh et al., 2014;Gärtner et al., 2019;Moore et al., 2008;Troy et al., 2010Troy et al., , 2013. These results indicate the possibility that questionnaire trait PCR is not a good measure of actual PCR use or ability in individuals with high stressor load or traumatic experiences. ...
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... Although research is limited due to the low number of nuclear disasters that have occurred in history, specific psychological interventions have been shown to be helpful in mitigating some of the negative mental health consequences of living through a nuclear disaster. These cognitive interventions include mindfulness training, behavioural activation, and cognitive reappraisal training [30,36,41]. A cross-sectional study based on online self-report questionnaires found that mindfulness has been associated with lower health anxiety and psychological distress, but not radiation risk perception [41]. ...
... A randomized control trial of a two-session behavioural activation intervention was shown to have a small but significant impact on life satisfaction and livelihood, and a more intensive program could potentially have greater efficacy [36]. Learning to successfully use cognitive reappraisal skills to reduce negative emotions and thoughts associated with disaster-related pictures is associated with fewer symptoms of depression and PTSD in a correlational self-report study [30]. If people are able to re-evaluate how they think about the traumatic event, they may be able to reduce emotional reactivity, which is associated with poorer functioning [30]. ...
... Learning to successfully use cognitive reappraisal skills to reduce negative emotions and thoughts associated with disaster-related pictures is associated with fewer symptoms of depression and PTSD in a correlational self-report study [30]. If people are able to re-evaluate how they think about the traumatic event, they may be able to reduce emotional reactivity, which is associated with poorer functioning [30]. Those who tend to benefit most from cognitive interventions are educated, employed, and have multiple children [36]. ...
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This narrative review synthesizes the literature on the psychological consequences of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident of 1979, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. A search was conducted on OVID for studies in English from 1966 to 2020. Fifty-nine studies were included. Living through a nuclear disaster is associated with higher levels of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Decontamination workers, those living in closest proximity to the reactor, and evacuees experience higher rates of mental health problems after a nuclear disaster. Those with greater psychological resilience and social supports experience lower rates of psychological distress. Individual-level interventions, such as mindfulness training, behavioral activation, and cognitive reappraisal training, have shown modest benefits on improving psychological wellbeing. At the population level, many of the measures in place aimed at reducing exposure to radiation actually increase individuals’ anxiety. Technology-based supports have been studied in other types of natural disasters and it may be beneficial to look at mobile-based interventions for future nuclear disasters.
... These findings are supported by theoretical models such as the schematic, propositional, analogical, and associative representational systems (SPAARS) model of PTSD (Dalgleish & Power, 2004;Power & Dalgleish, 2015), according to which peritraumatic negative emotions develop as a result of discrepancies between the traumatic event and previous beliefs regarding self, world, or future. Posttraumatic stress symptoms such as avoidance or re-experiencing develop as attempts of the cognitive system to resolve those discrepancies (Dalgleish & Power, 2004; Power & trauma-exposed populations (Cavanagh, Fitzgerald, & Urry, 2014;Kaczmarek & Zawadzki, 2012) and people with PTSD (Badour & Feldner, 2013;Spiller et al., 2019), and is predictive of PTSD (Pineles et al., 2013). Regarding positive emotional reactivity, studies have been scarce. ...
... Rather, individual negative emotions levels played a stronger role in predicting subsequent symptomatology compared with emotional reactivity. This indicates that the link found in the literature between emotional reactivity and posttraumatic stress and depression (e.g., Booij, Snippe, Jeronimus, Wichers, & Wigman, 2018;Cavanagh et al., 2014) is not predictive in nature. ...
Article
While peritraumatic negative emotions have been associated with subsequent posttraumatic stress and depression, the predictive role of real-time emotional reactions to specific stressors during prolonged stress exposure is still unclear, particularly that of positive emotions. The current study uses experience sampling methodology to examine individual general levels of negative and positive emotions, and emotional reactivity to specific stressors during war, as prospective predictors of posttraumatic stress and depression. Ninety-six civilians exposed to rocket fire during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war reported exposure to rocket warning sirens and levels of ten negative and six positive emotions twice a day for 30 days. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression were then assessed two months post-war. Participants reported higher negative emotions and lower positive emotions during assessment windows with sirens. Over time, negative emotions decreased and positive emotions increased. Higher levels of overall negative emotions predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms and depression symptoms two months later. Levels of positive emotions, and negative and positive emotional reactivity to sirens, were not associated with subsequent symptomatology. Our results indicate the stronger role of overall negative emotions as predictors of symptomatology compared with momentary emotional reactivity, and the stronger predictive role of negative compared with positive emotions.
... Important personal factors promoting resilience encompass an individual's adaptive abilities, such as appropriate emotion regulation, inhibitory control, or cognitive flexibility, but also include an individual's social integration, a person's genetic make-up, or the individual neurobiological constitution ( Campbell-Sills et al., 2006 ;Feder et al., 2019 ). While a variety of studies investigated the beneficial impact of adequate coping during stress and resilience either after a traumatic event or in response to an artificially induced acute stressor ( Caston and Mauss, 2011 ;Cavanagh et al., 2014 ;Gloria and Steinhardt, 2016 ;Min et al., 2013 ;Roos et al., 2017 ;Shapero et al., 2019 ), predictive assertions on future coping with a naturally occurring stressor are lacking. Our results provide first hints that bridge this gap and provide important implications not only for affective and cognitive coping with potential further waves of increasing COVID-19 cases, for instance due to virus mutations around the world, Table 3 Results of further sensitivity analyses using brain activity as main predictor to explain stress burden. ...
Article
Background The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has confronted millions of people around the world with an unprecedented stressor, affecting physical and mental health. Accumulating evidence suggests that emotional and cognitive self-regulation is particularly needed to effectively cope with stress. Therefore, we investigated the predictive value of affective and inhibitory prefrontal control for stress burden during the COVID-19 crisis.Method Physical and mental health burden were assessed using an online survey, which was administered to 104 participants of an ongoing German at-risk birth cohort during the first wave in April 2020. Two follow-ups were carried out during the pandemic, one capturing the relaxation during summer and the other the beginning of the second wave of the crisis. Prefrontal activity during emotion regulation and inhibitory control were assessed prior to the COVID-19 crisis.ResultsIncreased inferior frontal gyrus activity during emotion regulation predicted lower stress burden at the beginning of the first and the second wave of the crisis. In contrast, inferior and medial frontal gyrus activity during inhibitory control predicted effective coping only during the summer, when infection rates decreased but stress burden remained unchanged. These findings remained significant when controlling for sociodemographic and clinical confounders such as stressful life events prior to the crisis or current psychopathology.Conclusions We demonstrate that differential stress-buffering effects are predicted by the neural underpinnings of emotion regulation and cognitive regulation at different stages during the pandemic. These findings may inform future prevention strategies to foster stress coping in unforeseen situations.HighlightsHealth threatening stressors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly worsen well-being.Results reveal high levels of stress during the course of the pandemic with an increase of stress burden towards the second wave.Self-regulation is an important coping strategy to restore allostasis.Higher prefrontal activity during emotion regulation predicted less stress during the peaks of infection rates in the first and second waveHigher prefrontal inhibitory control predicted less stress burden between both waves when infection rates were low.Our findings highlight the importance of prefrontal regulation as effective coping mechanisms in the face of unprecedented stressors.
... Important personal factors promoting resilience encompass an individual's adaptive abilities, such as appropriate emotion regulation, inhibitory control, or cognitive flexibility, but also include an individual's social integration, a person's genetic make-up, or the individual neurobiological constitution ( Campbell-Sills et al., 2006 ;Feder et al., 2019 ). While a variety of studies investigated the beneficial impact of adequate coping during stress and resilience either after a traumatic event or in response to an artificially induced acute stressor ( Caston and Mauss, 2011 ;Cavanagh et al., 2014 ;Gloria and Steinhardt, 2016 ;Min et al., 2013 ;Roos et al., 2017 ;Shapero et al., 2019 ), predictive assertions on future coping with a naturally occurring stressor are lacking. Our results provide first hints that bridge this gap and provide important implications not only for affective and cognitive coping with potential further waves of increasing COVID-19 cases, for instance due to virus mutations around the world, Table 3 Results of further sensitivity analyses using brain activity as main predictor to explain stress burden. ...
Article
Full-text available
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has confronted millions of people around the world with an unprecedented stressor, affecting physical and mental health. Accumulating evidence suggests that emotional and cognitive self-regulation is particularly needed to effectively cope with stress. Therefore, we investigated the predictive value of affective and inhibitory prefrontal control for stress burden during the COVID-19 crisis. Physical and mental health burden were assessed using an online survey, which was administered to 104 participants of an ongoing at-risk birth cohort during the first wave in April 2020. Two follow-ups were carried out during the pandemic, one capturing the relaxation during summer and the other the beginning of the second wave of the crisis. Prefrontal activity during emotion regulation and inhibitory control were assessed prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Increased inferior frontal gyrus activity during emotion regulation predicted lower stress burden at the beginning of the first and the second wave of the crisis. In contrast, inferior and middle frontal gyrus activity during inhibitory control predicted effective coping only during the summer, when infection rates decreased but stress burden remained unchanged. These findings remained significant when controlling for sociodemographic and clinical confounders such as stressful life events prior to the crisis or current psychopathology. We demonstrate that differential stress-buffering effects are predicted by the neural underpinnings of emotion regulation and cognitive regulation at different stages during the pandemic. These findings may inform future prevention strategies to foster stress coping in unforeseen situations.
... 2011, an emotionally intense period characterised by its spatial and temporal proximity to those involved, cognitive reappraisal use was found to be unrelated to both negative emotions and reappraisal success (Cavanagh et al., 2014). Although cognitive reappraisal use in everyday situations can be effective at restoring emotional wellbeing after emotional challenge (Mauss et al., 2007), choosing reappraisal as a strategy during an ongoing crisis scenario may not be as effective at reducing negative emotions. ...
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Although anxiety and worry can motivate engagement with COVID-19 preventative behaviours, people may cognitively reframe these unpleasant emotions, restoring wellbeing at the cost of public health behaviours. New Zealand young adults ( n = 278) experiencing nationwide COVID-19 lockdown reported their worry, anxiety, reappraisal and lockdown compliance. Despite high knowledge of lockdown policies, 92.5% of participants reported one or more policy breaches ( M = 2.74, SD = 1.86). Counter to predictions, no relationships were found between anxiety or worry with reappraisal or lockdown breaches. Findings highlight the importance of targeting young adults in promoting lockdown compliance and offer further insight into the role of emotion during a pandemic.
... An abundance of studies found increased emotional reactivity to daily stressors in people with psychiatric disorders compared to a non-diagnosed sample, including depression (Booij, Snippe, Jeronimus, Wichers, & Wigman, 2018;Myin-Germeys et al., 2003;van Winkel et al., 2015), schizophrenia (Benedetti et al., 2011), psychosis or high risk of psychosis (Myin-Germeys, van Os, Schwartz, Stone, & Delespaul, 2001;van der Steen et al., 2017) and anxiety disorders (Cisler, Olatunji, Feldner, & Forsyth, 2010;Herres, Caporino, Cummings, & Kendall, 2018). Emotional reactivity to traumarelated cues has been linked also to severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms (Badour & Feldner, 2013;Cavanagh, Fitzgerald, & Urry, 2014) or meeting the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis (Pineles et al., 2013). People with mental illness have also been found to have increased levels of negative emotions in general (Cho et al., 2017;Oorschot et al., 2013). ...
Article
There is a lack of knowledge regarding real‐time emotional reactivity to high‐intensity stressors, particularly in people with mental illness, a potentially vulnerable population. The current study aimed to examine negative emotional reactions to recurring high‐intensity stressors within a continuous war situation, in people with different psychiatric diagnosis types. Experience sampling method was used to examine emotional reactions among 143 civilians exposed to rockets during the 2014 Israel‐Gaza war, of them 18.2% with psychosis, 14.7% with anxiety or depression and 67.1% without mental illness. Participants reported exposure to rocket warning sirens and the levels of ten negative emotions twice a day for 30 days. Negative emotional levels were higher on most emotions following high‐intensity stressors (sirens), i.e., emotional reactivity was demonstrated in real‐time during war. Overall, no difference in reactivity was found among the three study groups. Moreover, people with anxiety/depression were less reactive than people without mental illness on sadness and being overwhelmed. The findings indicate similar and sometimes lower emotional reactivity to high‐intensity stressors in people with mental illness compared to the general population. Nevertheless, people with mental illness seem to have significant emotional needs during war, to be addressed in prevention and intervention efforts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... For example, an early study of a technological disaster (partial nuclear meltdown) found that for people living near Three Mile Island, positive reappraisal coping was associated with less distress and lower levels of norepinephrine, a biomarker of stress (Collins et al. 1983). A study of members of the U. S. Embassy Tokyo community in the months following the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan found that although self-reported use of positive reappraisal was not associated with psychological functioning, success using reappraisal as assessed on a performance-based experimental task, was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and PTSD (Cavanagh et al. 2014). A study of survivors of the 2010 Chilean earthquake/tsunami demonstrated that cognitive processing involving brooding rumination but not deliberate meaning making mediated associations between exposure severity and PTSD symptoms, while deliberate meaning making mediated the link between severity and perceived growth (García et al. 2015). ...
Chapter
In this chapter, we use Park’s (Park’s (2010) meaning making model as a framework for organizing current knowledge of how people recover from disasters, highly stressful events that can severely violate people’s meaning systems. First, we review the main components of the meaning making model, then review how both global meaning (global beliefs and goals) and situational meaning (appraisals, meaning making and meanings made) are implicated in recovery following disasters. We highlight the central role that religiousness and spirituality often play in these meaning-related recovery processes. We conclude with limitations of current research and directions for future research.
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Spreading rapidly across the United States beginning in the spring of 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic radically disrupted Americans' lives. Previous studies of community-wide disasters suggested people are fairly resilient and identified resources and strategies that promote that resilience. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic is in some ways unique, with high levels of uncertainty, evolving implications and restrictions, and varied and uneven impacts. How resilient were Americans as the pandemic progressed? What psychosocial resources and coping strategies facilitated adjustment as the country moved into a summer of uneven reopenings and reclosures? Data from a national sample of 674 Americans were gathered at the height of early lockdowns and peaking infections in mid-April, 2020, and again, 5 and 10 weeks later. The study aimed to determine levels and sources of distress and to identify the resources and coping efforts that promoted or impeded resilience. Early levels of distress diminished to some extent over subsequent months while levels of wellbeing were comparable with usual norms, suggesting a largely resilient response. COVID-19-related stress exposure also decreased gradually over time. Older age, higher levels of mindfulness and social support, and meaning focused coping predicted better adjustment, reflecting resilience, while avoidance coping was particularly unhelpful. In models predicting change over time, approach-oriented coping (i.e., active coping, meaning-focused coping, and seeking social support) was minimally predictive of subsequent adjustment. Given the unique and ongoing circumstances presented by COVID-19, specific interventions targeting psychosocial resources and coping identified here may help to promote resilience as the pandemic continues to unfold. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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Purpose The purpose of this paper (including three studies) is to investigate the idea that individuals in an emergency situation experience significantly a higher level of emotional activation, lower performance of task, and change in decision making, escaping behavior and conformity as compared to being in a non-emergency situation. It is also suggested that the level of emotional activation mediates the association between situation and the performance of task. Design/methodology/approach Study 1 was an experimental study with 43 university students and revealed that different situations induced different levels of emotional activation and they are positively and significantly related. Study 2 was a further exploration of study 1, in which 49 participants were asked to watch a recomposed video telling a reasonable story about escaping from the emergency and complete several tasks associated with two kinds of situations (non-emergency vs emergency). In study 3, 168 participants, randomly assigned to three groups, were asked to work on judgment tasks with different numbers of options. Findings Results revealed that individuals in an emergency situation experience significantly lower performance of task and higher conformity tendency than in a non-emergency situation. Also, the causal effect of the situation on the performance of task is mediated by the level of emotional activation. Moreover, results found that the performance of task is also a mediator between the level of emotional activation and conformity. Result showed that the number of choices is negatively related to conformity, and performance is a mediator between the number of choices and conformity. Originality/value This paper suggested that the level of emotional activation mediates the association between situation and the performance of task.
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This article reports differences across 23 countries on 2 processes of emotion regulation––reappraisal and suppression. Cultural dimensions were correlated with country means on both and the relationship between them. Cultures that emphasized the maintenance of social order––that is, those that were long-term oriented and valued embeddedness and hierarchy––tended to have higher scores on suppres-sion, and reappraisal and suppression tended to be positively correlated. In contrast, cultures that minimized the maintenance of social order and valued individual Affective Autonomy and Egalitarianism tended to have lower scores on Suppression, and Reappraisal and Suppression tended to be negatively correlated. Moreover, country-level emotion regulation was significantly correlated with country-level indices of both positive and negative adjustment. The 37 coauthors of this article, in alphabetical order by last name, are as follows:
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