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Intelligence and emotional disorders: Is the worrying and ruminating mind a more intelligent mind?

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Previous research has shown that anxiety and depression symptoms are negatively associated with measures of intelligence. However, this research has often not taken state distress and test anxiety into account, and recent findings indicate possible positive relationships between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), worry, and intelligence. The present study examined the relationships between GAD, depression, and social anxiety symptoms, as well as their underlying cognitive processes of worry, rumination, and post-event processing, with verbal and non-verbal intelligence in an undergraduate sample (N = 126). While the results indicate that verbal intelligence has positive relationships with GAD and depression symptoms when test anxiety and state negative affect were taken into account, these relationships became non-significant when overlapping variance was controlled for. However, verbal intelligence was a unique positive predictor of worry and rumination severity. Non-verbal intelligence was a unique negative predictor of post-event processing. The possible connections between intelligence and the cognitive processes that underlie emotional disorders are discussed.
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Short Communication
Intelligence and emotional disorders: Is the worrying and ruminating
mind a more intelligent mind?
Alexander M. Penney
, Victoria C. Miedema, Dwight Mazmanian
Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada
article info
Article history:
Received 8 June 2014
Received in revised form 30 September
2014
Accepted 1 October 2014
Keywords:
Intelligence
Generalized anxiety disorder
Depression
Social anxiety disorder
Worry
Rumination
Post-event processing
abstract
Previous research has shown that anxiety and depression symptoms are negatively associated with
measures of intellige nce. However, this research has often not taken state distress and test anxiety into
account, and recent findings indicate possible positive relationships between generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD), worry, and intelligence. The present study examined the relationships between GAD,
depression, and social anxiety symptoms, as well as their underlying cognitive processes of worry,
rumination, and post-event processing, with verbal and non-verbal intelligence in an undergraduate
sample (N = 126). While the results indicate that verbal intelligence has positive relationships with
GAD and depression symptoms when test anxiety and state negative affect were taken into account,
these relationships became non-significant when overlapping variance was controlled for. However,
verbal intelligence was a unique positive predictor of worry and rumination severity. Non-verbal
intelligence was a unique negative predictor of post-event processing. The possible connections between
intelligence and the cognitive processes that underlie emotional disorders are discussed.
Ó 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Intelligence has long been recognized as playing a key role in
human evolution. Adaptive emotional regulation is also considered
to be critically important for survival and reproduction (Darwin,
1872). More recently, some theorists have extrapolated the evolu-
tionary framework to encompass the maladaptive extremes of
emotions the emotional disorders (e.g., Gilbert, 1998, 2001;
Marks & Nesse, 1994). In this view, experiencing the ‘‘right’’
emotion (e.g., anxiety, sadness, or happiness), with the optimal
intensity and duration, in the correct context or situation, would
clearly enhance an organism’s fitness. Emotional disorders, there-
fore, represent the extreme and non-adaptive tails of a normal dis-
tribution of individual variability in emotional reactions. For
example, given the adaptive value of an emotion like anxiety,
which would permit an individual to anticipate and plan for poten-
tial threats, it seems clear that anxiety might have co-evolved with
increased intelligence. Moreover, given the potentially fatal costs
of ‘‘false negatives’’ in decision-making about threats, selection
pressures may have favoured errors in the other direction, or ‘‘false
positives’’. From an evolutionary standpoint, there are fewer costs
associated with worrying about a threatening event that does not
occur than failing to anticipate, plan for, or avoid one that does.
Relevant research exploring these relationships has provided
mixed results, however. Researchers have often found a negative
relationship between intelligence and emotional disorders, across
a diverse range of samples (Feldhusen & Klausmeier, 1962;
Kerrick, 1955; McCandless & Castaneda, 1956). A recent meta-anal-
ysis indicated that gifted children are less likely to have anxiety
than non-gifted children (Martin, Burns, & Schonlau, 2010). Multi-
ple studies have also found that depressed individuals score lower
on measures of processing speed and visual–spatial reasoning than
they do on measures of verbal intelligence (Kluger & Goldberg,
1990; Zillmer, Ball, Fowler, Newman, & Stutts, 1991). However, it
is possible that the symptoms of acute depression might decrease
an individual’s ability to perform optimally on an intelligence test,
and that the individual may not have lower intelligence. Aligning
with this, Ruisel (2000) argued that state anxiety and test anxiety
should be taken into account when interpreting the relationship
between anxiety and intelligence, and Moutafi, Furnham, and
Tsaousis (2006) found that test anxiety mediated the relationship
between neuroticism and intelligence. This research suggests that
the negative relationship between emotional disorders and intelli-
gence may be an artifact of the testing itself.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.10.005
0191-8869/Ó 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, MacEwan University, City
Centre Campus, 10700-104 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 4S2, Canada. Tel.: +1 780 497
4165; fax: +1 780 497 5308.
E-mail addresses: apenney@lakeheadu.ca (A.M. Penney), vcmiedem@lakeheadu.
ca (V.C. Miedema), dwight.mazmanian@lakeheadu.ca (D. Mazmanian).
Personality and Individual Differences 74 (2015) 90–93
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Personality and Individual Differences
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
Recent studies by Coplan et al. (2006, 2012) compared healthy
controls to individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD),
and found that individuals with GAD had higher intelligence. Worry
severity also positively correlated with intelligence within the GAD
samples. Unfortunately, both studies had very small samples, and
the authors did not investigate the role of other cognitive processes.
While worry is the proposed cognitive process underlying GAD
(American Psychiatric Association, 2013), rumination and post-
event processing are thought to be the primary cognitive processes
involved in major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder,
respectively (Clark & Wells, 1995; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2000).
This study sought to further examine the relationships between
emotional disorders and intelligence. Using a large undergraduate
sample, we examined the relationships of GAD, depression, and
social anxiety symptoms, as well as the relationships of worry,
rumination, and post-event processing, with verbal and non-verbal
intelligence while controlling for state negative affect and test
anxiety.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Participants
A total of 126 undergraduate students participated. The sample
consisted primarily of Caucasian (85.7%), young adult (M
age = 20.46, SD = 4.53) women (77.0%). This study was reviewed
and approved by the university’s research ethics board.
2.2. Measures
2.2.1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire-IV (GADQ-IV;
Newman et al., 2002)
The GADQ-IV is a 9-item self-report measure, with higher
scores indicating a higher amount of GAD symptoms. The GADQ-
IV demonstrates strong convergent and divergent validity, as well
as good internal consistency.
2.2.2. Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ; Meyer, Miller, Metzger,
& Borkovec, 1990)
The PSWQ is a 16-item self-report questionnaire. The PSWQ has
been found to have high internal consistency, and high content
validity. Higher scores indicate more frequent worries.
2.2.3. Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D;
Radloff, 1977)
The CES-D is a 20-item self-report measure. Higher scores indi-
cate more frequent depressive symptoms. The CES-D has high
internal consistency, high content validity, and moderate conver-
gent validity.
2.2.4. Ruminative Responses Scale-Brooding and Reflection (RRS-BR;
Treynor, Gonzalez, & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2003)
Higher scores on the RRS-BR indicate more frequent rumina-
tion. The RRS-BR is a 10-item self-report questionnaire, which
has been found to have high internal consistency, and strong con-
vergent validity.
2.2.5. Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN; Connor et al., 2000)
The SPIN is a 17-item self-report measure, with higher scores
corresponding to more intense social anxiety symptoms. The SPIN
has excellent internal consistency and good convergent validity.
2.2.6. Post-Event Processing Questionnaire-Revised (PEPQ-R; McEvoy
& Kingsep, 2006)
The PEPQ-R is an 8-item self-report questionnaire. The PEPQ-R
has been found to have high internal consistency and moderate
convergent validity. Higher scores indicate more frequent and
intense post-event processing.
2.2.7. Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI; Wechsler, 2008)
A VCI score was calculated for each participant using the Simi-
larities, Comprehension, and the Vocabulary subscales from the
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV;
Wechsler, 2008). Raw scores on each of the three scales were con-
verted into scaled scores and transformed according to the rules
specified in the WAIS-IV manual. Higher scores on the VCI indicate
higher verbal intelligence. The subscales and the VCI have been
shown to have excellent psychometric properties.
2.2.8. Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM; Raven, Raven, &
Court, 2000)
The SPM is a series of five matrices sets with a part missing. Par-
ticipants select a pattern that they believe completes the overall
design. The SPM has excellent psychometric properties and higher
scores indicate higher non-verbal intelligence.
2.2.9. Positive and Negative Affect Schedule Negative Affect subscale
(PANAS-NA; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988)
The PANAS-NA is a 10-item self-report measure, with higher
scores indicating more intense state negative affect. The PANAS-
NA has demonstrated high internal consistency, convergent valid-
ity, discriminant validity, and construct validity.
2.2.10. Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale (CTAS; Cassady & Johnson, 2002)
The CTAS is a 27-item self-report measure. The CTAS demon-
strates high levels of internal consistency, stability, and predictive
validity. Higher scores indicate more severe test anxiety.
2.3. Procedure
After expressing interest in the study, potential participants
met individually with one of the primary researchers, or one of
seven research assistants. The primary researchers provided exten-
sive training to the research assistants on how to complete the
WAIS-IV subscales and the SPM. Participants were fully informed
of the nature of the study, and then completed a demographic
characteristics questionnaire, followed by the measures in the fol-
lowing order: the PEPQ-R, the CES-D, the WAIS-IV: Similarities, the
SPIN, the PSWQ, the WAIS-IV: Comprehension, the PANAS-NA,
the CTAS, the WAIS-IV: Vocabulary, the RRS-BR, the GADQ-IV,
and the SPM.
2.4. Statistical analyses
Partial correlations were first examined between the VCI and
SPM and the symptom measures, as well as between the VCI and
SPM and the cognitive process measures, controlling for scores
on the PANAS-NA and the CTAS. To examine if the associations
between the VCI and SPM and the measures of interest were
unique (i.e., not due to overlapping variance among measures),
hierarchical regression analyses were conducted.
3. Results and discussion
When controlling for test anxiety and state negative affect, the
VCI positively partially correlated (pr) with the GADQ-IV,
pr(122) = .18, p = .045, and with the CES-D, pr(122) = .20, p = .023.
The VCI also positively correlated with the PSWQ, pr(122) = .21,
A.M. Penney et al. / Personality and Individual Differences 74 (2015) 90–93
91
p = .018, and the RRS-BR, pr(122) = .24, p = .007. The VCI did not
correlate with the SPIN or the PEPQ-R, ps > .590. The SPM nega-
tively correlated with the PEPQ-R, pr(122) = .20, p = .027, but
did not correlate with any other measure, ps > .085. Table 1 reports
the results of the hierarchical regression analyses. The VCI was a
unique positive predictor of the PSWQ and RRS-BR, while the
SPM was a unique negative predictor of the PEPQ-R. The results
of this study indicate that verbal intelligence is positively associ-
ated with the tendency to worry and ruminate. Non-verbal intelli-
gence, on the other hand, is negatively associated with the
tendency to process past social events.
Overall, the results of this study support and extend the find-
ings of Coplan et al. (2006, 2012). While Coplan et al. (2006,
2012) found a positive association between worry and intelligence
only in a clinical sample, the current study extended this finding to
a non-clinical sample. The present findings have also revealed that
rumination is positively related to verbal intelligence. However,
post-event processing was negatively related to non-verbal intelli-
gence. It is possible that more verbally intelligent individuals are
able to consider past and future events in greater detail, leading
to more intense rumination and worry. Individuals with higher
non-verbal intelligence may be stronger at processing the non-ver-
bal signals from individuals they interact with in the moment,
leading to a decreased need to re-process past social encounters.
Previous studies in this area found a negative relationship
between intelligence and anxiety and depression (e.g., Feldhusen
& Klausmeier, 1962; Kluger & Goldberg, 1990). By controlling for
state distress and test anxiety, this study found positive correla-
tions between GAD and depression symptoms and verbal intelli-
gence, although the relationship was lost when controlling for
overlapping variance. No relationship was found between social
anxiety symptoms and verbal or non-verbal intelligence. These
findings indicate that while intelligence may be related to the
symptoms of emotional disorders, it is more strongly linked to
the cognitive processes that underlie these disorders.
One additional implication that arises from this study is that
future researchers who wish to examine the relationship between
intelligence and various psychological variables, such as psychopa-
thology, cognitive processes, or personality, should consider the
role of state negative affect (i.e., current emotional state) and test
anxiety. This study illustrates that these variables may play a
significant role in the observed strength and direction of the
relationships higher-level constructs have with intelligence.
The present study was not without limitations. The sample for
this study was undergraduate students, with few individuals over
the age of 30 participating. It is difficult to be certain how the
results obtained from this sample would generalize to older popu-
lations. However, this did not restrict the range of VCI scores,
which ranged from 74 to 130. Similarly the range of the emotional
disorder symptoms varied considerably, with the mean scores for
the sample at or above the empirical cut-offs for the GADQ-IV,
SPIN, and CES-D. Yet, without clinical interviews it is unclear
how many participants would have met diagnostic criteria for
the emotional disorders examined in this study.
The present study examined the relationships between verbal
and non-verbal intelligence and the symptoms and cognitions of
emotional disorders. Although only small positive correlations
between verbal intelligence and the symptoms of GAD and depres-
sion were found, positive associations between verbal intelligence
and worry and rumination and a negative association between
non-verbal intelligence and post-event processing emerged. Future
studies are needed to provide a thorough explanation and interpre-
tation of the relationships between these cognitive processes and
intelligence. However, these preliminary results indicate that a
worrying and ruminating mind is a more verbally intelligent mind;
a socially ruminative mind, however, might be less able to process
non-verbal information.
Authors’ note
We would like to acknowledge Stephanie Cottrell for her
assistance with preparation of study materials, data collection,
and data entry. We would also like to thank Alyssa Mervin for
preparation of study materials and data collection, and Kimberly
Ongaro, Amy Killen, Sarah Kaukinen, Dylan Antoniazzi, and
Matthew Nordlund for assisting with data collection.
Declaration of conflicting interests
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article.
Funding
This study was not funded by any external funding source.
Table 1
Hierarchical regression analyses.
Variable R Adjusted R
2
R
2
change tpr
Dependent variable: GADQ-IV
Step 1 .60 .35 .36
**
PANAS-NA 3.63
**
.31
**
CTAS 6.36
**
.50
**
Step 2 .67 .43 .09
**
SPIN 1.00 .09
CES-D 4.21
**
.36
**
Step 3 .68 .43 .01
VCI 1.26 .11
Dependent variable: CES-D
Step 1 .53 .26 .28
*
PANAS-NA 4.96
**
.41
**
CTAS 3.39
**
.29
**
Step 2 .61 .35 .10
**
SPIN 0.61 .05
GADQ-IV 4.21
**
.36
**
Step 3 .62 .36 .01
VCI 1.67 .15
Dependent variable: PSWQ
Step 1 .61 .36 .36
**
PANAS-NA 4.28
**
.36
**
CTAS 6.07
**
.48
**
Step 2 .68 .44 .09
**
PEPQ-R 3.65
**
.31
**
RRS-BR 1.28 .11
Step 3 .69 .46 .02
*
VCI 2.17
*
.19
*
Dependent variable: RRS-BR
Step 1 .42 .16 .18
**
PANAS-NA 4.16
**
.35
**
CTAS 1.94 .17
Step 2 .51 .24 .09
**
PEPQ-R 2.85
*
.25
*
PSWQ 1.28 .11
Step 3 .55 .27 .04
*
VCI 2.52
*
.22
*
Dependent variable: PEPQ-R
Step 1 .43 .17 .18
PANAS-NA 2.80
*
.24
*
CTAS 3.63
**
.31
**
Step 2 .58 .31 .15
PSWQ 3.65
**
.31
**
RRS-BR 2.85
*
.25
*
Step 3 .61 .35 .04
SPM 2.79
*
.25
*
*
p < .05.
**
p < .001.
92 A.M. Penney et al. / Personality and Individual Differences 74 (2015) 90–93
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... They found a negative correlation between non-verbal intelligence and Post-Event Processing (PEP). They showed a negative relationship between higher intelligence and less worry among healthy subjects (Penney, Miedema, & Mazmanian, 2015). The reason for its importance is that the associations may be found in specific domains of intelligence and anxiety (Francis et al., 2018). ...
... The reason for its importance is that the associations may be found in specific domains of intelligence and anxiety (Francis et al., 2018). Penney and his colleagues also pointed out that high intelligence may be related to cognitive processes underlying anxiety disorders, such as worry, rumination and post-event processing (Penney et al., 2015). ...
... In addition, the results of the present study confirm the findings of other researchers who found that high intelligence may lead to anxiety disorders (Catheline-Antipoff & Poinso, 1994). Given the adaptive value of an emotion such as anxiety, which would permit to anticipate and plan for potential threats, it reveals that anxiety might have co-evolved with increased intelligence (Penney et al., 2015). ...
Article
Introduction Previous researches have shown that anxiety symptoms are negatively associated with measures of intelligence. However, recent findings indicate possible positive relationships between Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD) and intelligence. Also, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is associated with a moderate degree of underperformance on cognitive tests, including deficient processing. There are inconsistent results to present the relationship between Major Depression Disorder (MDD) and IQ. The present study has three main aims. The first aim of this study is to investigate the difference between IQ in individuals with GAD, OCD and major depressive disorder, and normal group. The second purpose is to perform a comparative study between the GAD, OCD and MDD groups on verbal and non-verbal intelligence. The third aim of this study is to examine the relationships between GAD, OCD and MDD as well as their underlying cognitive processes, including worry, rumination, and post-event processing, with verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Objective The present study is performed on four groups of participants including those with GAD, OCD, MDD and Healthy Volunteer (HV) group consisting of individuals without psychiatric disorders. Method The number of 50 healthy volunteers as the control group, 45 patients with GAD, 20 patients with OCD and 25 patients with MDD (n = 140) were selected as the case-referent groups. The present study was a cross-sectional type and the research was performed based on the causal-comparative method. Verbal and non-verbal intelligence was measured with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-3rd edition (WAIS-III). Rumination and post-event processing were measured by PSWQ, RRS-BR, and PEPQ, respectively. Results The results indicate that Verbal Intelligence and Verbal Comprehension Index in GAD patients have significant differences in comparison to the OCD, MDD and control groups. While, the value of the Working Memory Index (WMI) in the normal group is higher than the value of the same index in the GAD, OCD and MDD groups. Also, the values of the Processing Speed Index (PSI) in normal and GAD groups are higher than the OCD and MDD groups. The worry, rumination, and post-event processing in patients with GAD are positively correlated with general and verbal intelligence. But, verbal and non-verbal intelligence had a negative correlation with worry, rumination and post-event processing in healthy volunteers. Conclusion Investigation of the possible connections between intelligence and the cognitive processes underlying emotional disorders can provide therapeutic strategies for smart individuals who are at risk for GAD.
... Results of a previous study support these data by demonstrating positive correlations between a high degree of worry in patients with generalized anxiety disorder with intelligence [23]. Moreover, Penney et al. found positive correlations between generalized anxiety disorder and verbal intelligence [24]. Results of our study on women with breast cancer contradict these previous findings in that they show a significant negative correlation between intelligence and depression and not any significant relationship between intelligence and anxiety. ...
... This divergence of data could be explained at least in part by the investigation of samples with distinct primary diseases. The authors who reported positive correlations between intelligence, anxiety, and depression partly investigated patients with generalized anxiety disorder or also healthy volunteers [23,24]. In contrast, we assessed oncological patients, whose symptoms of anxiety and depression depended on the oncological diagnosis. ...
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Purpose It is known that the diagnosis of breast cancer often causes anxiety and depression. Radiotherapy of the breast as an obligatory part of a breast-conserving treatment concept can markedly increase these psychological symptoms in many, but not all patients. In this clinical observational study, we aimed at identifying cognitive, health-related and social factors that may either enhance or reduce the emergence of anxiety and depression. Methods Using a longitudinal study design with 25 women (mean age: 52.9 years; SD = 10.6; age range 29–70 years) with a first diagnosis of nonmetastatic breast cancer, measures of anxiety, depression, situational emotional states, intelligence, and aspects of social frameworks were assessed before, during, and after radiotherapy of the breast. At 4 time-points, standard and self-constructed questionnaires were used to assess the course of anxiety and depressive symptoms across the radiotherapy intervention. Results We found that anxiety is highest immediately before the start of radiation therapy, while the anxiety level was lowest on the day that therapy was completed. Anxiety and depression were enhanced in women with a lifetime history of chronic diseases at all time points of measurement. Moreover, women with high intelligence and low social support had stronger symptoms of depression than women with low intelligence and a stable family background at some time points of measurement. The degree of anxiety was neither related to intelligence nor to social support. Conclusion For the first time, we demonstrate empirical pilot data on cognitive and social modulators of anxiety and depression in women with breast cancer over the course of radiotherapy. Our results may help to optimize clinical procedures and thereby reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in these patients.
... Our results highlight distinct cognitive and temperamental profiles associated with P, INT, and EXT, perhaps offering insights into the psychological and neural mechanisms that drive these broad liabilities. As summary, Table 4 higher neurocognition contributes to higher fear/distress symptoms due to greater prospection and associated ruminative worry (Penney et al., 2015), but at the same time it is protective for attention problems (i.e., lower BPM Attention and ADHD) due to enhanced cognitive control. Overall, while our pattern of findings are consistent with previous studies Brandes et al., 2019b;Carver et al., 2017b;Castellanos-Ryan et al., 2016;Deutz et al., 2020;Hankin et al., 2017;Martel et al., 2017;Michelini et al., 2019;Moore et al., 2020;Tackett et al., 2013), this study is 14 among the first to position these liabilities for psychopathology along these cognitive, temperament, and environmental continua simultaneously, providing novel insights into their interrelationships. ...
... But importantly, these two liabilities are embedded in highly differentiated, and in several cases, highly divergent, nomological networks. It is notable that the literature on anxiety and depression are similarly mixed, with some studies linking these internalizing disorders to variables associated with P (e.g., lower cognitive abilities; Snyder, 2013;Rapport et al., 2001;Levin et al., 2007) , while other studies link them to variables associated with INT (e.g., higher cognitive abilities; Karpinski et al., 2018;Penney et al., 2015). Results of the current study serve to resolve some of these tensions by showing that observed internalizing symptoms likely reflect equifinality wherein distinct underlying liabilities (i.e., P-based liability versus INTbased liability) lead to similar clinical presentations (i.e., internalizing symptoms). ...
Article
Background Structural models of psychopathology consistently identify internalizing (INT) and externalizing (EXT) specific factors as well as a superordinate factor that captures their shared variance, the p factor. Questions remain, however, about the meaning of these data-driven dimensions and the interpretability and distinguishability of the larger nomological networks in which they are embedded. Methods The sample consisted of 10 645 youth aged 9–10 years participating in the multisite Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. p , INT, and EXT were modeled using the parent-rated Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Patterns of associations were examined with variables drawn from diverse domains including demographics, psychopathology, temperament, family history of substance use and psychopathology, school and family environment, and cognitive ability, using instruments based on youth-, parent-, and teacher-report, and behavioral task performance. Results p exhibited a broad pattern of statistically significant associations with risk variables across all domains assessed, including temperament, neurocognition, and social adversity. The specific factors exhibited more domain-specific patterns of associations, with INT exhibiting greater fear/distress and EXT exhibiting greater impulsivity. Conclusions In this largest study of hierarchical models of psychopathology to date, we found that p , INT, and EXT exhibit well-differentiated nomological networks that are interpretable in terms of neurocognition, impulsivity, fear/distress, and social adversity. These networks were, in contrast, obscured when relying on the a priori Internalizing and Externalizing dimensions of the CBCL scales. Our findings add to the evidence for the validity of p , INT, and EXT as theoretically and empirically meaningful broad psychopathology liabilities.
... Poor cognitive control might thus facilitate intrusion development by enhancing rumination. In support of this assumption, studies indicate that lower intelligence and working memory performance are linked to greater rumination (Joormann & Gotlib, 2008;Moghadasin & Khodaverdizadeh, 2019;Penney et al., 2015). ...
... As mentioned previously, the current study assessed trait rumination rather than state rumination. We chose this measure based on previous studies that investigated associations between intelligence, WMC, and rumination using trait measures (du Pont et al., 2020;Joormann & Gotlib, 2008;Moghadasin & Khodaverdizadeh, 2019;Penney et al., 2015). However, our exploratory analyses indicate that this choice was not ideal in the context of the current research questions. ...
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Background and objectives Field research indicates that lower intelligence may predispose trauma-exposed individuals towards the development of re-experiencing symptoms. However, this assumption requires further testing in controlled prospective studies. In the current analog study, we tested whether lower fluid intelligence and lower working memory capacity (WMC) independently contribute to intrusion development. Moreover, we investigated potential mediating effects of trauma memory characteristics and trait rumination. Methods 118 healthy participants completed tests measuring fluid intelligence and WMC. Two days later, they were exposed to a film clip depicting traumatic events (i.e., so-called trauma film). After exposure to the film, intrusions were assessed using a diary and an intrusion triggering task. Results Our analyses revealed a negative correlation between fluid intelligence and intrusions during the intrusion triggering task. WMC did not correlate with any intrusion measure. Moreover, planned analyses did not yield any mediation effects. Limitations We used the trauma film paradigm to examine analog posttraumatic stress symptoms. This approach limits the generalizability of our findings with regard to symptom development following real-life traumatic events. Conclusions Our results show for the first time that higher fluid intelligence is associated with fewer intrusions of a trauma film. This association was evident for laboratory but not for ambulatory intrusions. By demonstrating this association using a prospective experimental design, our study importantly corroborates previous field research.
... Our results highlight distinct cognitive and temperamental profiles associated with P, INT, and EXT, perhaps offering insights into the psychological and neural mechanisms that drive these broad liabilities. As summary, Table 4 higher neurocognition contributes to higher fear/distress symptoms due to greater prospection and associated ruminative worry (Penney et al., 2015), but at the same time it is protective for attention problems (i.e., lower BPM Attention and ADHD) due to enhanced cognitive control. Overall, while our pattern of findings are consistent with previous studies Brandes et al., 2019b;Carver et al., 2017b;Castellanos-Ryan et al., 2016;Deutz et al., 2020;Hankin et al., 2017;Martel et al., 2017;Michelini et al., 2019;Moore et al., 2020;Tackett et al., 2013), this study is 14 among the first to position these liabilities for psychopathology along these cognitive, temperament, and environmental continua simultaneously, providing novel insights into their interrelationships. ...
... But importantly, these two liabilities are embedded in highly differentiated, and in several cases, highly divergent, nomological networks. It is notable that the literature on anxiety and depression are similarly mixed, with some studies linking these internalizing disorders to variables associated with P (e.g., lower cognitive abilities; Snyder, 2013;Rapport et al., 2001;Levin et al., 2007) , while other studies link them to variables associated with INT (e.g., higher cognitive abilities; Karpinski et al., 2018;Penney et al., 2015). Results of the current study serve to resolve some of these tensions by showing that observed internalizing symptoms likely reflect equifinality wherein distinct underlying liabilities (i.e., P-based liability versus INTbased liability) lead to similar clinical presentations (i.e., internalizing symptoms). ...
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Introduction: Structural models of psychopathology consistently identify internalizing (INT) and externalizing (EXT) specific factors as well as a superordinate factor that captures their shared variance, the P factor. Questions remain, however, about meaning of these data-driven dimensions and the interpretability and distinguishability of the larger nomological networks in which they are embedded. Methods: The sample consisted of 11,875 youth aged 9 to 10 years participating in the multisite Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. P, INT, and EXT were modeled using the parent-rated Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Patterns of associations were examined with variables drawn from diverse domains including: demographics, psychopathology, temperament, family history of substance use and psychopathology, school and family environment, and cognitive ability, using instruments based on youth-, parent-, and teacher-report and behavioral task performance.Results: P exhibited a broad pattern of statistically significant associations with risk variables across all domains assessed, including temperament, neurocognition, and social adversity. The specific factors exhibited more domain-specific patterns of associations, with INT exhibiting greater fear/distress and EXT exhibiting greater impulsivity. Conclusions: In this largest study of hierarchical models of psychopathology to date, we found that P, INT, and EXT exhibit well differentiated nomological networks that are interpretable in terms of neurocognition, impulsivity, fear/distress, and social adversity. These networks were, in contrast, obscured when relying on the a priori internalizing and externalizing dimensions of the CBCL scales. Our findings add to the evidence for the validity of P, INT, and EXT as theoretically and empirically meaningful broad psychopathology liabilities.
... As one of the strong correlates (e.g., Parmentier et al., 2019) and predictors of anxiety (e.g., Swee, Olino, & Heimberg, 2019), worry refers to negative thoughts due to the anticipation of a future threat (Korte et al., 2016). Although it is considered as a central feature of emotional disorders such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Goodwin et al., 2017), it is also understood as a non-clinical trait that is associated with negative life outcomes (Matthews et al., 2002;Penney et al., 2015;Raes, 2010;Shoal et al., 2005;Xie et al., 2019). Moreover, studies highlighted that high trait worry exacerbates the severity of psychological responses to stressors and traumatic events (e.g., Spinhoven et al., 2015). ...
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Epidemics and pandemics are difficult periods for the affected community, specifically in the proliferation of mental health issues. In such adverse times, factors of psychological vulnerability such as propensity to worry and low emotional stability might have a detrimental effect on the mental health of the individuals. To investigate the impact of such factors on mental health, this study examined the impacts of propensity to worry and fear of COVID-19 on anxiety depending on the individuals’ levels of emotional stability. As a means of such investigation, this study was conducted based on quantitative data, and the research sample was selected using a convenient sampling method. Participants included 304 university students (71.6% were women and 28.4% were men; MAge = 22.37 ± 3.04) and responded to the Penn State Worry Questionnaire, Fear of COVID-19 Scale, Symptom Checklist-90 Revised, and 10-Item Personality Inventory. The moderated mediation analysis using PROCESS macro (Model 14) was performed to examine the study hypotheses. Results revealed that propensity to worry was associated with anxiety symptoms. Fear of COVID-19 mediated this link and emotional stability moderated the relationship between propensity to worry and anxiety. The findings showed that trait worry, trait emotional stability, and fear of COVID-19 are determinants of anxiety symptoms, suggesting that such factors are important in understanding these issues.
... Several past works have reported curvilinear effects of cognitive ability on a wide range of outcomes, including leadership (Antonakis et al., 2017), personality (Major et al., 2014), creativity ( Jauk et al., 2013), and antisocial behavior (Silver, 2019). Others have reported that high levels of cognitive ability are related to elevated health risks, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Karpinski et al., 2018), bipolar disorder (Gale et al., 2013), depression (Penney et al., 2015), and elevated levels of dysfunctional personality traits (Matta et al., 2019). Several of these past findings imply a "too much of a good thing" effect (TMGT; Grant & Schwartz, 2011) in which greater cognitive ability may be beneficial at lower levels but potentially maladaptive at extremely high levels of ability. ...
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Despite a long-standing expert consensus about the importance of cognitive ability for life outcomes, contrary views continue to proliferate in scholarly and popular literature. This divergence of beliefs presents an obstacle for evidence-based policymaking and decision-making in a variety of settings. One commonly held idea is that greater cognitive ability does not matter or is actually harmful beyond a certain point (sometimes stated as > 100 or 120 IQ points). We empirically tested these notions using data from four longitudinal, representative cohort studies comprising 48,558 participants in the United States and United Kingdom from 1957 to the present. We found that ability measured in youth has a positive association with most occupational, educational, health, and social outcomes later in life. Most effects were characterized by a moderate to strong linear trend or a practically null effect (mean R ² range = .002–.256). Nearly all nonlinear effects were practically insignificant in magnitude (mean incremental R ² = .001) or were not replicated across cohorts or survey waves. We found no support for any downside to higher ability and no evidence for a threshold beyond which greater scores cease to be beneficial. Thus, greater cognitive ability is generally advantageous—and virtually never detrimental.
... Furthermore, children with a higher IQ may be more capable of higher order functions, which might facilitate worries about the past, future or self-efficacy -which may perpetuate anxiety (Salazar et al., 2015). This pattern is, however, unclear in children without autism (with contradicting evidence available, Karpinski et al., 2018;Martin et al., 2010;Penney et al., 2015). Alternative explanations suggest that higher IQ may interact with social and functional experiences and expectations of autistic children. ...
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Lay abstract: Autistic children often experience higher levels of anxiety than their peers. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat anxiety disorders in autistic children, in part because of the high degree of variability in their underlying abilities and presentations. Some evidence suggests that autistic children with higher intelligence (as measured by intelligence quotient) experience higher levels of anxiety than autistic children with lower intelligence. However, the evidence is inconsistent, with other papers not finding a difference or finding higher levels of anxiety in autistic children with lower intelligence. In this article, we review existing literature to see whether autistic children with higher intelligence quotients have higher anxiety than autistic children with lower intelligence quotients. A systematic search of the literature was conducted which identified 49 papers on the topic. The methods of all the papers were reviewed using an objective quality assessment framework. When combining the data statistically, there was evidence that autistic children with higher intelligence quotients are more anxious than autistic children with lower intelligence quotients. The quality review raised common weaknesses across studies. Most importantly, few studies used measures of anxiety that have been shown to be valid for children with very low intelligence quotients. Similarly, many studies used measures of anxiety that have not been shown to be valid for autistic children. These factors are important because autistic children and those with low intelligence quotient may experience or understand anxiety differently. Future research should use fully validated measures to test whether high intelligence quotient is associated with high levels of anxiety in autistic children.
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Psychopathology and cognitive development are closely related. Assessing the relationship between multiple domains of psychopathology and cognitive performance can elucidate which cognitive tasks are related to specific domains of psychopathology. This can help build theory and improve clinical decision-making in the future. In this study, we included 13,841 children and adolescents drawn from two large population-based samples (Generation R and ABCD studies). We assessed the cross-sectional relationship between three psychopathology domains (internalizing, externalizing, dysregulation profile (DP)) and four cognitive domains (vocabulary, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed) and the full-scale intelligence quotient. Lastly, differential associations between symptoms of psychopathology and cognitive performance by sex were assessed. Results indicated that internalizing symptoms were related to worse performance in working memory and processing speed, but better performance in the verbal domain. Externalizing and DP symptoms were related to poorer global cognitive performance. Notably, those in the DP subgroup had a 5.0 point lower IQ than those without behavioral problems. Cognitive performance was more heavily affected in boys than in girls given comparable levels of psychopathology. Taken together, we provide evidence for globally worse cognitive performance in children and adolescents with externalizing and DP symptoms, with those in the DP subgroup being most heavily affected.
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