ArticleLiterature Review

The Default Response to Uncertainty and the Importance of Perceived Safety in Anxiety and Stress: An Evolution-theoretical Perspective

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Perceived safety is a term, which is commonly used in different fields including tourism (Rittichainuwat, 2013), healthcare services (Bradshaw et al., 2014), urban and environmental studies (Ramírez et al., 2021), clinical psychology (Brosschot et al., 2016), robotics (Bartneck et al., 2009), and autonomous systems (Kong et al., 2018;Xu et al., 2018). However, perceived safety is not limited to these fields, a basic search in Web of Science results in more than one hundred categories. ...
... For example, in a tourism study, Rittichainuwat (Rittichainuwat, 2013) explained the safety concern, as an affective experience that is an overlapping emotion of worry, fear, and anxiety that emerges from a nervous situation. In a similar vein, a clinical psychology study, Brosschot et al. (2016) stated that the lack of perceived safety triggers chronic anxiety and stress. For living organisms, unpredictable and uncertain situations are always perceived as unsafe even if there is no threat (Brosschot et al., 2016). ...
... In a similar vein, a clinical psychology study, Brosschot et al. (2016) stated that the lack of perceived safety triggers chronic anxiety and stress. For living organisms, unpredictable and uncertain situations are always perceived as unsafe even if there is no threat (Brosschot et al., 2016). A recent study of urban space safety (Ramírez et al., 2021) reported that in a survey of perception of public spaces, characteristics of the respondents such as gender, mobility pattern, and income affected their perceived safety. ...
Article
Full-text available
Safety in human-robot interaction can be divided into physical safety and perceived safety, where the latter is still under-addressed in the literature. Investigating perceived safety in human-robot interaction requires a multidisciplinary perspective. Indeed, perceived safety is often considered as being associated with several common factors studied in other disciplines, i.e., comfort, predictability, sense of control, and trust. In this paper, we investigated the relationship between these factors and perceived safety in human-robot interaction using subjective and objective measures. We conducted a two-by-five mixed-subjects design experiment. There were two between-subjects conditions: the faulty robot was experienced at the beginning or the end of the interaction. The five within-subjects conditions correspond to (1) baseline, and the manipulations of robot behaviors to stimulate: (2) discomfort, (3) decreased perceived safety, (4) decreased sense of control and (5) distrust. The idea of triggering a deprivation of these factors was motivated by the definition of safety in the literature where safety is often defined by the absence of it. Twenty-seven young adult participants took part in the experiments. Participants were asked to answer questionnaires that measure the manipulated factors after within-subjects conditions. Besides questionnaire data, we collected objective measures such as videos and physiological data. The questionnaire results show a correlation between comfort, sense of control, trust, and perceived safety. Since these factors are the main factors that influence perceived safety, they should be considered in human-robot interaction design decisions. We also discuss the effect of individual human characteristics (such as personality and gender) that they could be predictors of perceived safety. We used the physiological signal data and facial affect from videos for estimating perceived safety where participants’ subjective ratings were utilized as labels. The data from objective measures revealed that the prediction rate was higher from physiological signal data. This paper can play an important role in the goal of better understanding perceived safety in human-robot interaction.
... Such an increased need for evidence and the resulting excessive information-seeking behavior suggests that high IU individuals develop and maintain high levels of anxiety because of deficits in learning that a given situation is safean idea proposed by the generalized unsafety theory of stress (GUTS; Brosschot et al., 2016). Much research supports this theory. ...
... In contrast, we expected that participants high in trait prospective IU would seek equivalent amounts of information regardless of the test's supposed relevance. That is, consistent with the GUTS framework (Brosschot et al., 2016), we expected that those high in trait prospective IU would disregard the safety signal provided by the low relevance condition and evidence similar levels of information-seeking behavior across the conditions. This hypothesis is also consistent with Mogg and Bradley's (1998) position that individuals high in trait anxiety demonstrate a bias in appraising irrelevant, innocuous stimuli as more threatening. ...
... Lastly, previous research manipulated uncertainty by varying the probability of a given negative event, whereas our novel approach was to manipulate the information about the relevance of the uncertain situation. Providing participants with such qualitatively different information allowed us to test the premises of the GUTS framework (Brosschot et al., 2016). The framework proposes that individuals high in IU evidence deficits in learning that a situation poses no actual or relevant threat. ...
Article
Full-text available
Prospective intolerance of uncertainty (IU) involves fear and anxiety in anticipation of future uncertainty and is especially related to worry and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Individuals high in IU appraise uncertain situations as threatening and thus may engage in excessive information-seeking behavior to decrease uncertainty. This study aimed to examine the links between prospective IU and information-seeking. Participants (N = 174) high and low in prospective IU completed an ostensible aptitude test (threat stimulus), which was supposedly either excellent (high relevance condition) or poor (low relevance condition) at predicting future outcomes. Thus, the test itself presented an immediate threat, and the awaited test results generated uncertainty. Following the relevance manipulation, participants were given the opportunity to engage in information-seeking behavior by asking questions about the ostensible test and by requesting feedback about the test results. Results indicated that in the high-relevance condition, individuals high and low in IU evidenced similar levels of information-seeking behavior. Conversely, in the low-relevance condition, individuals low in IU evidenced less information-seeking than did individuals high in IU. Furthermore, cognitive appraisals of ambiguous situations were associated with the extent of information-seeking behavior. The implications of these findings for the treatment of GAD are discussed.
... A possible mechanism for emotional outbursts in the Perceived Safety cluster may be related to the generalized unsafety theory of stress, which posits that when perceived safety is low, individuals exhibit a default stress response driven by the intolerance of uncertainty about safety, even in the absence of explicit stressors 57 . When perceived safety is high, the theory suggests that top-down control is exerted to efficiently inhibit this default stress response 57 . ...
... A possible mechanism for emotional outbursts in the Perceived Safety cluster may be related to the generalized unsafety theory of stress, which posits that when perceived safety is low, individuals exhibit a default stress response driven by the intolerance of uncertainty about safety, even in the absence of explicit stressors 57 . When perceived safety is high, the theory suggests that top-down control is exerted to efficiently inhibit this default stress response 57 . Individuals in the Perceived Safety cluster may perceive environments as less safe and therefore experience more distress in these environments. ...
... However, from a functional perspective, one might expect these items to feature more prominently within the Perceived Unsafety cluster. In contrast, the pattern of relevant contexts for individuals in the Perceived Unsafety cluster appears to be consistent with the generalized unsafety theory of stress as described above 57 . It is possible that due to differences in safety perception or inhibition of the default stress response, young people in this cluster may be more intolerant of uncertainty about safety and perceive more environments as unsafe. ...
Article
Full-text available
Emotional outbursts or temper outbursts are challenging behaviours commonly experienced by people with neurodevelopmental disorders and people who have experienced childhood adversity, which can negatively impact individuals and their families. Emotional outbursts may manifest in different situations via unique pathways distinguished by context-specific differences in the regulation and expression of emotions. Caregivers (N = 268) of young people (6–25 years) with emotional outbursts completed a bespoke caregiver-report questionnaire. Potential pathways were identified by examining the patterns of antecedents and setting events related to outbursts through factor and cluster analyses. Six contextual factors were derived from the Emotional Outburst Questionnaire. Based on these factors, the responses were classified into three clusters, which may represent potential pathways of emotional outbursts. The three clusters were characterized by the increased likelihood of outbursts: (1) across all setting events and triggers; (2) in safe setting events; (3) in unsafe setting events. These potential pathways may be related to: (1) differences in sensory processing; (2) masking of emotions in unsafe environments; (3) differences in safety perception. This framework supports a transdiagnostic account of emotional outbursts and may facilitate the development of pathway-specific intervention strategies.
... Other theories causally relate CVC to self-regulation processes (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016, 2018Grossman & Taylor, 2007;Laborde, Mosley, & Mertgen, 2018;Lehrer, 2013;McCraty & Childre, 2010). For instance, the generalized unsafety theory of stress (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2018 proposes that low resting HRV is an index of the chronically disinhibited default stress response: (i) as long as safety is perceived, the default stress response is under tonic prefrontal inhibition, reflected by high resting HRV, (ii) low resting HRV is sufficient for not recognizing safety. ...
... Other theories causally relate CVC to self-regulation processes (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016, 2018Grossman & Taylor, 2007;Laborde, Mosley, & Mertgen, 2018;Lehrer, 2013;McCraty & Childre, 2010). For instance, the generalized unsafety theory of stress (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2018 proposes that low resting HRV is an index of the chronically disinhibited default stress response: (i) as long as safety is perceived, the default stress response is under tonic prefrontal inhibition, reflected by high resting HRV, (ii) low resting HRV is sufficient for not recognizing safety. Consistently, studies found that low HRV is associated with deficient safety learning (Pappens et al., 2014;Wendt, Neubert, Koenig, Thayer, & Hamm, 2015) and increased contextual fear conditioning (Melzig, Weike, Hamm, & Thayer, 2009). ...
... We can assume that participants with lower CVC are more likely to attend to and recall threat-related stimuli because of lower prefrontal inhibitory control over sympatho-excitatory subcortical circuits (e.g., Park & Thayer, 2014). This is in line with the generalized unsafety theory of stress (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2018 which states that (i) the default stress response is under tonic prefrontal inhibition as long as safety is perceived, (ii) safety signals are learned, (iii) dampened CVC could be responsible for deficient safety learning (e.g., Pappens et al., 2014;Wendt et al., 2015). We can also conceive that participants with lower CVC expressed stronger negative evaluations because of stronger emotional responses to threat-related cues. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Dans ce travail, nous avons souhaité explorer la dimension émotionnelle du conditionnement évaluatif. Nous postulons que celui-ci provient d’un processus de double évaluation, d’une part émotionnelle et d’autre part cognitive. Nous nous sommes focalisés sur l’étude des processus émotionnels à travers la régulation émotionnelle. Pour cela nous avons réalisé trois séries d’études. Dans la première, nous avons mis en évidence que la dérégulation émotionnelle diminuait le conditionnement positif. Dans deux autres études visant à explorer les stratégies de régulation, nous avons observé qu’un mésusage des stratégies engendrait un conditionnement négatif plus fort et un conditionnement positif plus faible. Ces premiers résultats sont appuyés par deux études utilisant la variabilité de la fréquence cardiaque comme indicateur des capacités d’autorégulation. Le conditionnement évaluatif paraît associé à la dérégulation émotionnelle à travers des difficultés d’adaptation durant le stress et de récupération post-stress. Enfin, deux études ont essayé d’observer les effets d’un prédicteur de la régulation émotionnelle : la pleine conscience. Dans aucune des deux études nous n’avons trouvé de lien entre la pleine conscience et le conditionnement évaluatif. Nous avons donc pu observer à travers différentes méthodes un lien entre le conditionnement évaluatif et la régulation émotionnelle. Celui-ci est discuté et des pistes de recherches sont envisagées.
... Perceived safety is a term, which is commonly used in different fields including tourism [23], healthcare services [24], urban and environmental studies [25], clinical psychology [26], robotics [18], and autonomous systems [27,28]. However, perceived safety is not limited to these fields, a basic search in Web of Science results in more than one hundred categories. ...
... For example, in a tourism study, Rittichainuwat [23] explained the safety concern, as an affective experience that is an overlapping emotion of worry, fear, and anxiety that emerges from a nervous situation. In a similar vein, a clinical psychology study, Brosschot et al. [26] stated that the lack of perceived safety triggers chronic anxiety and stress. For living organisms, unpredictable and uncertain situations are always perceived as unsafe even if there is no threat [26]. ...
... In a similar vein, a clinical psychology study, Brosschot et al. [26] stated that the lack of perceived safety triggers chronic anxiety and stress. For living organisms, unpredictable and uncertain situations are always perceived as unsafe even if there is no threat [26]. A recent study of urban space safety [25] reported that in a survey of perception of public spaces, characteristics of the respondents such as gender, mobility pattern, and income affected their perceived safety. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Safety in human-robot interaction can be divided into physical safety and perceived safety, where the latter is still under-addressed in the literature. Investigating perceived safety in human-robot interaction requires a multidisciplinary perspective. Indeed, perceived safety is often considered as being associated with several common factors studied in other disciplines, i.e., comfort, predictability, sense of control, and trust. In this paper, we investigated the relationship between these factors and perceived safety in human-robot interaction using subjective and objective measures. We conducted a two-by-five mixed-subjects design experiment. There were two between-subjects conditions: the faulty robot was experienced at the beginning or the end of the interaction. The five within-subjects conditions correspond to (1) baseline, and the manipulations of robot behaviors to stimulate: (2) discomfort, (3) decreased perceived safety, (4) decreased sense of control and (5) distrust. The idea of triggering a deprivation of these factors was motivated by the definition of safety in the literature where safety is often defined by the absence of it. Twenty-seven young adult participants took part in the experiments. Participants were asked to answer questionnaires that measure the manipulated factors after within-subjects conditions. Besides questionnaire data, we collected objective measures such as videos and physiological data. The questionnaire results show a correlation between comfort, sense of control, trust, and perceived safety. Since these factors are the main factors that influence perceived safety, they should be considered in human-robot interaction design decisions. We also discuss the effect of individual human characteristics (such as personality and gender) that they could be predictors of perceived safety. We used the physiological signal data and facial affect from videos for estimating perceived safety where participants' subjective ratings were utilized as labels. The data from objective measures revealed that the prediction rate was higher from physiological signal data. This paper can play an important role in the goal of better understanding perceived safety in human-robot interaction.
... As an international public health emergency, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID- 19) has gained widespread attention from the public. Owing to COVID-19's high infectivity and mortality rate (3-4%), 1 China initiated its first-level public health emergency response on January 25, 2020. 2 The Chinese government and health authorities strived to slow the virus' spread by adopting a series of preventive measures, such as strict quarantining, contact tracing, and social distancing. ...
... 15 Previous studies have demonstrated that stress causes various mental health problems. 16,17 Although moderate pressure is beneficial to stimulate individual protective behaviors and improve environmental adaptability by developing a warning system, 18,19 long-term or intense stress causes psychological impairment and physical disease. This phenomenon has been explained through a stress system model, which suggests that adverse life events (stressors) can directly lead to individual stress responses or indirectly affect an individual's physical and mental health through their coping style, social support, personality traits, and awareness. ...
... Cronbach's α coefficients for the depression, neurasthenia, fear, compulsion-anxiety and hypochondria subdimensions were 0.885, 0.846, 0.802, 0.791, and 0.802, respectively. active coping style (items 1-12) and avoidant coping style (items [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. Each item is scored on a four-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3 according to frequency (never, sometimes, often, and always). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: This study aimed to assess the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among the general public in Hunan Province, China, which could help develop psychological interventions and mental health programs. Participants and methods: This online cross-sectional study recruited 571 participants through snowball sampling between February 2 and February 5, 2020. Data were collected through a general information questionnaire, the Public Emergency Psychological State Questionnaire, the Simple Coping Style Questionnaire, and the Public Disease Awareness on COVID-19 Scale. Results: The total mean score of the public emergency psychological state of the sample was 0.27 (0.31) points, with only 5.78% of participants (n = 33) developing psychological distress. Avoidant coping style and disease awareness were weakly positively correlated (rs = 0.257, p < 0.01) and weakly negatively correlated (rs = -0.124, p <0.01) with psychological responses, respectively. There were significant psychological differences among the following variables: occupation, symptoms of fever or fatigue, discernment of the authenticity of COVID-19 information, and level of concern regarding COVID-19 (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a minor psychological impact on the general population in Hunan Province. However, psychological health promotion in the general public is still required, especially for employees (such as company employees, migrant workers, and businessmen), individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms, limited discernment competence and unconcerned attitudes. Implications: The initiatives for improving psychological health among the general public could focus on delivering COVID-19 knowledge and alleviating avoidant coping styles. Our findings could provide important insight for the development of psychological support strategies in China, as well as in other places affected by the epidemic.
... The arguments that LCS has an innate basis as a warning signal include the facts that (a) all species of animals, including humans and even young infants exhibit innate fear and defensive reactions to rapidly approaching "looming" stimuli (Riskind, 1997); (b) looming stimuli automatically produce attentional capture in humans as well as better memory than static or receding stimuli (Wheeler et al., 1997); and (c) looming stimuli evoke fear reactions as well as distinct signatures of brain activation, even when equated for physical proximity (Fanselow, 1994). By the same token, there are arguments that IU has an innate basis (Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2012). For example, Brosschot et al. (2016) argue that IU is an innate property of all human beings and that it is alleviated as we learn that situations are safe. ...
... By the same token, there are arguments that IU has an innate basis (Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2012). For example, Brosschot et al. (2016) argue that IU is an innate property of all human beings and that it is alleviated as we learn that situations are safe. However, they state that for those people who are unable to perceive safety in situations, this generalized unsafety continues for uncertain situations, leading to anxiety and stress. ...
... Yeo et al. (2020) note the dynamic features of threat appraisal that are emphasized in LCS where it has been shown to predict anxiety above and beyond IU (Riskind et al., 2007) which is a more static perception of threat. Thus, our findings support that LCS sets the stage for the perception that there is the possibility of a danger or a threat (even if one does not actually exist) and within this stage, this then leads to difficulty with the uncertainty about the threat, and as Brosschot et al. (2016) argue, the concern about one's safety once the context for that threat has been established. ...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased distress and uncertainty. Understanding the progression of mental health and factors underlying the perpetuation of distress during the pandemic is pivotal in informing interventions and public health messaging. This current study examined longitudinal effects of two cognitive vulnerabilities, looming cognitive style, and intolerance of uncertainty, as well as coping styles on anxiety and depression through online questionnaires at two time points in the pandemic, May 2020 (N = 1520) and August 2020 (N = 545). Depression, but not anxiety, significantly increased across time, which was moderated by coping style. Serial mediation modeling using path analysis demonstrated a significant pathway illustrating increased looming cognitive style in the beginning of the pandemic leads to increased intolerance of uncertainty, avoidant coping, and anxiety later in the pandemic. Results suggest a novel model in conceptualizing anxiety during the pandemic, namely highlighting looming cognitive style as an underlying cognitive vulnerability factor and antecedent of intolerance of uncertainty and illuminating the temporal directionality between looming cognitive style and intolerance of uncertainty. These findings provide important implications regarding intervention and public health messaging with modifiable behavioral and cognitive factors to improve mental health during a pandemic.
... Conventional theories of stress have historically focused on the assumption that stress is a response to an actual environmental threat (either internal or external to the body), making it difficult to explain the relation between stress and disease. In contrast, GUTS is a new psychological and cognitive theoretical model proposed by Brosschot in 2016 [113] that revises and expands the stress theory by focusing on safety instead of threat, and by including risk factors that have hitherto not been attributed to stress [113]. Based on neurobiological and evolutionary evidence, GUTS hypothesizes that stressors are not necessary for a chronic stress response to occur but the perception of an unsafe state is enough. ...
... Conventional theories of stress have historically focused on the assumption that stress is a response to an actual environmental threat (either internal or external to the body), making it difficult to explain the relation between stress and disease. In contrast, GUTS is a new psychological and cognitive theoretical model proposed by Brosschot in 2016 [113] that revises and expands the stress theory by focusing on safety instead of threat, and by including risk factors that have hitherto not been attributed to stress [113]. Based on neurobiological and evolutionary evidence, GUTS hypothesizes that stressors are not necessary for a chronic stress response to occur but the perception of an unsafe state is enough. ...
... Based on neurobiological and evolutionary evidence, GUTS hypothesizes that stressors are not necessary for a chronic stress response to occur but the perception of an unsafe state is enough. In GUTS, PNS is the key system controlling the stress response (particularly the vagus nerve and the prefrontal cortex activity) [113]. Of note, preclinical data suggest that magnesium may be important for the functionality of these central systems. ...
Article
Full-text available
Magnesium deficiency and stress are both common conditions among the general population, which, over time, can increase the risk of health consequences. Numerous studies, both in pre-clinical and clinical settings, have investigated the interaction of magnesium with key mediators of the physiological stress response, and demonstrated that magnesium plays an inhibitory key role in the regulation and neurotransmission of the normal stress response. Furthermore, low magnesium status has been reported in several studies assessing nutritional aspects in subjects suffering from psychological stress or associated symptoms. This overlap in the results suggests that stress could increase magnesium loss, causing a deficiency; and in turn, magnesium deficiency could enhance the body’s susceptibility to stress, resulting in a magnesium and stress vicious circle. This review revisits the magnesium and stress vicious circle concept, first introduced in the early 1990s, in light of recent available data.
... However, what is clear is that further empirical work is needed to examine the consistency of IU-related effects upon different types of physiological responses during instructed uncertain threat. Addressing this will allow us to assess the relevance of IU in instructed uncertain threat, as well as provide critical information for advancing our conceptual understanding of IU in relation to existing neurobiological models of uncertainty and anticipation (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Peters, McEwen, & Friston, 2017;Shihata, McEvoy, Mullan & Carleton, 2016). Here, we conducted a secondary analyses of data (Kaye, Bradford, & Curtin, 2016a;Rutherford, Tanovic, Bradford & Joormann, 2020) from two independent labs (Wisconsin-Madison, n = 128; Yale, n = 95) using instructed uncertain threat tasks to examine whether previously reported IU-related physiological profiles could be replicated. ...
... Such findings suggest that IU-related biases may be captured differently depending on the physiological measure during instructed uncertain threat. Taken together, these findings could advance our conceptual understanding of IU in instructed uncertain threat and have implications for existing neurobiological models of uncertainty and anticipation (Brosschot et al., 2016;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Peters et al., 2017). We hypothesised that: (1) higher IU would be associated with modulation of orbicularis oculi activity to unpredictable threat of shock, relative to predictable threat of shock and safety from shock Nelson & Shankman, 2011) and (2) higher IU would be . ...
... Morriss et al., 2020;Morriss, Bennett, & Larson, 2021), and (2) develop lab-based tasks that are more ecologically valid and reflect real life uncertainty. From the results of this study, it is also clear that extension of existing neurobiological models of uncertainty and anticipation (Brosschot et al. 2016;Grupe et al., 2013;Peters et al. 2017) is required, taking into account parameters of uncertainty (i.e. the level of uncertainty through parameters such as risk versus ambiguity) and its impact upon physiological responses. ...
Article
Individuals with high self-reported Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) tend to interpret uncertainty negatively. Recent research has been inconclusive on evidence of an association between IU and physiological responses during instructed uncertain threat. To address this gap, we conducted secondary analyses of IU and physiology data recorded during instructed uncertain threat tasks from two lab sites (Wisconsin-Madison; n = 128; Yale, n = 95). No IU-related effects were observed for orbicularis oculi activity (auditory startle-reflex). Higher IU was associated with: (1) greater corrugator supercilii activity to predictable and unpredictable threat of shock, compared to the safety from shock, and (2) poorer discriminatory skin conductance response between the unpredictable threat of shock, relative to the safety from shock. These findings suggest that IU-related biases may be captured differently depending on the physiological measure during instructed uncertain threat. Implications of these findings for neurobiological models of uncertainty and anticipation in anxiety are discussed.
... Both animals and humans are driven to minimise uncertainty, in order to conserve energy and accurately estimate the occurrence of motivationally relevant events (i.e., avoidance of predation, receiving comfort from conspecifics) (Hirsh et al., 2012;Peters et al., 2017). Current theoretical models posit that uncertainty is aversive in and of itself and is consequently more likely to engage the behavioural inhibition system responsible for stress and associated negative emotional states, particularly anxiety and fear (Gray, 1990;Hirsh et al., 2012;Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2016). Because of this theoretical stance, previous research has predominantly focused on uncertainty in relation to anxiety and fear, rather than other negative (i.e., frustration, anger, and sadness) or positive (i.e., surprise and excitement) emotional states (Anderson et al., 2019). ...
... As hypothesised, uncertainty in general and uncertainty when anticipating a negative outcome was found to primarily evoke fear/anxiety, followed by other negative emotional states (i.e., sadness/upset, anger/frustration, and confusion). These findings are in line with prior theoretical models (Gray, 1990;Hirsh et al., 2012;Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2016) and empirical research from the appraisal literature (Roseman, 1984;Smith and Ellsworth, 1985) suggesting that uncertainty is aversive in and of itself and engages the behavioural inhibition system responsible for stress and associated negative emotional states. Notably, the findings from this study suggest that the aversive reaction to uncertainty is most commonly expressed as anxiety and fear. ...
... While the findings from this study support current theoretical positions that uncertainty is aversive (Gray, 1990;Hirsh et al., 2012;Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2016;Peters et al., 2017), it also points to a much-needed expansion of our conceptualisation of uncertainty, in order to account for how uncertainty impacts a wider spectrum of negative and positive emotional states (Anderson et al., 2019;Morriss et al., 2019). The development of a working model of uncertainty that encompasses a broader range of negative and positive emotional states will be particularly informative for understanding how uncertainty and emotion interact in psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. ...
Article
Full-text available
Uncertainty and emotion are an inevitable part of everyday life and play a vital role in mental health. Yet, our understanding of how uncertainty and emotion interact is limited. Here, an online survey was conducted (n = 231) to examine whether uncertainty evokes and modulates a range of negative and positive emotions. The data show that uncertainty is predominantly associated with negative emotional states such as fear/anxiety. However, uncertainty was also found to modulate a variety of other negative (i.e., sadness/upset, anger/frustration, and confusion) and positive (i.e., surprise/interest and excited/enthusiastic) emotional states, depending on the valence of an anticipated outcome (i.e., negative and positive) and the sub parameter of uncertainty (i.e., risk and ambiguity). Uncertainty increased the intensity of negative emotional states and decreased the intensity of positive emotional states. These findings support prior research suggesting that uncertainty is aversive and associated with negative emotional states such as fear and anxiety. However, the findings also revealed that uncertainty is involved in eliciting and modulating a wide array of emotional phenomena beyond fear and anxiety. This study highlights an opportunity for further study of how uncertainty and emotion interactions are conceptualised generally and in relation to mental health.
... In everyday life, we often experience uncertainty and will typically try to minimise or resolve it to reduce anxiety and stress (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Hirsh, Mar & Peterson, 2012;Morriss, Gell, & van Reekum, 2019b;Peters, McEwen, & Friston, 2017). Individuals who score high in self-reported intolerance of uncertainty (IU) tend to find uncertainty particularly distressing (Carleton, 2016a(Carleton, , 2016bDugas, Buhr, & Ladouceur, 2004;Freeston, Rhéaume, Letarte, Dugas, & Ladouceur, 1994). ...
... Taken together, these results suggest that, during cuesignalled uncertainty of threat, IU is specifically related over STAI-T to activation in prefrontal cortical regions. These preliminary findings highlight the potential of IU in altering safety-signalling and conscious threat appraisal mechanisms in anxiety disorder pathololgy (Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2016aCarleton, , 2016bGrupe & Nitschke, 2013;Hirsh et al., 2012). Further research is needed to explore the generalisability of IU-related effects during cue-signalled uncertainty of threat, and how individual differences in IU modulate different parameters of uncertainty of threat (i.e., if, when, and what, as well as instructed vs. uninstructed) ...
Article
Full-text available
Heightened responding to uncertain threat is considered a hallmark of anxiety disorder pathology. We sought to determine whether individual differences in self-reported intolerance of uncertainty (IU), a key transdiagnostic dimension in anxiety-related pathology, underlies differential recruitment of neural circuitry during cue-signalled uncertainty of threat ( n = 42). In an instructed threat of shock task, cues signalled uncertain threat of shock (50%) or certain safety from shock. Ratings of arousal and valence, skin conductance response (SCR), and functional magnetic resonance imaging were acquired. Overall, participants displayed greater ratings of arousal and negative valence, SCR, and amygdala activation to uncertain threat versus safe cues. IU was not associated with greater arousal ratings, SCR, or amygdala activation to uncertain threat versus safe cues. However, we found that high IU was associated with greater ratings of negative valence and greater activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and dorsomedial rostral prefrontal cortex to uncertain threat versus safe cues. These findings suggest that during cue-signalled uncertainty of threat, individuals high in IU rate uncertain threat as aversive and engage prefrontal cortical regions known to be involved in safety-signalling and conscious threat appraisal. Taken together, these findings highlight the potential of IU in modulating safety-signalling and conscious appraisal mechanisms in situations with cue-signalled uncertainty of threat, which may be relevant to models of anxiety-related pathology.
... Principles of classical threat conditioning have provided a theoretical framework for examining the development, treatment, and relapse of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders (Boschen, Neumann, & Waters, 2009;Hofmann, 2008;Jacoby & Abramowitz, 2016;McNally, 2007;Milad & Quirk, 2012;Zuj & Norrholm, 2019;Zuj, Palmer, Lommen, & Felmingham, 2016). Based on animal and human evidence, it is well established that uncertainty (also known as ambiguity) is central to anxiety and stress (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Hirsch, Meeten, Krahé, & Reeder, 2016;Peters, McEwen, & Friston, 2017;Pulcu & Browning, 2019), and plays a fundamental role in the maintenance and recovery of threat learning (Bouton, 2002;Levy & Schiller, 2021). ...
... The results of the literature review highlight that individual differences in IU, and by proxy fear of the unknown (Carleton, 2016a(Carleton, , 2016b, is in part responsible for the maintenance of learned fear and anxiety (Brosschot et al., 2016;Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2017;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Tanovic et al., 2018). The literature review revealed that individual differences in IU are most critical for classical threat conditioning mechanisms when the probabilistic structure of the environment includes a greater quantity of unknowns (i.e., the absence of information about threat and safety contingencies and the omission of the US). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Intolerance of uncertainty (IU), the tendency to find uncertainty aversive, is an important transdiagnostic dimension in mental health disorders. Over the last decade, there has been a surge of research on the role of IU in classical threat conditioning procedures, which serve as analogues to the development, treatment, and relapse of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders. This review provides an overview of the existing literature on IU in classical threat conditioning procedures. The review integrates findings based on the shared or discrete parameters of uncertainty embedded within classical threat conditioning procedures. Under periods of unexpected uncertainty, where threat and safety contingencies change, high IU, over other self-reported measures of anxiety, is specifically associated with poorer threat extinction learning and retention, as well as overgeneralisation. Under periods of estimation and expected uncertainty, where the parameters of uncertainty are being learned or have been learned, such as threat acquisition training and avoidance learning, the findings are mixed for IU. These findings provide evidence that individual differences in IU play a significant role in maintaining learned fear and anxiety, particularly under volatile environments. Recommendations for future research are outlined, with discussion focusing on how parameters of uncertainty can be better defined to capture how IU is involved in the maintenance of learned fear and anxiety. Such work will be crucial for understanding the role of IU in neurobiological models of uncertainty-based maintenance of fear and anxiety and inform translational work aiming to improve the diagnosis and treatment of relevant psychopathology.
... Principles of classical threat conditioning have provided a theoretical framework for examining the development, treatment, and relapse of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-and stressorrelated disorders (Boschen et al., 2009;Hofmann, 2008;Jacoby and Abramowitz, 2016;McNally, 2007;Milad and Quirk, 2012;Zuj and Norrholm, 2019;Zuj et al., 2016). Based on animal and human evidence, it is well established that uncertainty (also known as ambiguity) is central to anxiety and stress (Brosschot et al., 2016;Grupe and Nitschke, 2013;Hirsch et al., 2016;Morriss et al., 2019a;Peters et al., 2017;Pulcu and Browning, 2019), and plays a fundamental role in the maintenance and recovery of threat learning (Bouton, 2002;Levy and Schiller, 2021). ...
... The results of the literature review provide direct evidence for modern IU theory outlined by Carleton (2016aCarleton ( , 2016b and through methods recommend by Shihata et al. (2016) that individual differences in IU, and by proxy fear of the unknown activates the behavioural inhibition system (i.e. increased vigilance and arousal) (Gray and McNaughton, 2003), and is in part responsible for the maintenance of learned fear and anxiety (Brosschot et al., 2016;Brosschot et al., 2017;Grupe and Nitschke, 2013;Tanovic et al., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Intolerance of uncertainty (IU), the tendency to find uncertainty aversive, is an important transdiagnostic dimension in mental health disorders. Over the last decade, there has been a surge of research on the role of IU in classical threat conditioning procedures, which serve as analogues to the development, treatment, and relapse of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. This review provides an overview of the existing literature on IU in classical threat conditioning procedures. The review integrates findings based on the shared or discrete parameters of uncertainty embedded within classical threat conditioning procedures. Under periods of unexpected uncertainty, where threat and safety contingencies change, high IU, over other self-reported measures of anxiety, is specifically associated with poorer threat extinction learning and retention, as well as overgeneralisation. Under periods of estimation and expected uncertainty, where the parameters of uncertainty are being learned or have been learned, such as threat acquisition training and avoidance learning, the findings are mixed for IU. These findings provide evidence that individual differences in IU play a significant role in maintaining learned fear and anxiety, particularly under volatile environments. Recommendations for future research are outlined, with discussion focusing on how parameters of uncertainty can be better defined to capture how IU is involved in the maintenance of learned fear and anxiety. Such work will be crucial for understanding the role of IU in neurobiological models of uncertainty-based maintenance of fear and anxiety and inform translational work aiming to improve the diagnosis and treatment of relevant psychopathology.
... It has been suggested that IU is a biological phenomenon and that all people are born with an innate tendency to be intolerant of uncertainty, as it is evolutionarily adaptive to be afraid of the unknown (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2017. According to this model, this genetic stress response is said to be the "default" and it is inhibited by feelings of safety. ...
... Previous studies using both child and adult samples have suggested a directional causality from autism traits to intolerance of uncertainty to anxiety. Such models do not easily account for the evolutionary model of learned tolerance for uncertainty suggested by Brosschot et al. (2016Brosschot et al. ( , 2017. Based on previous work we anticipate a strong positive association between selfreported autism traits and self-reported anxiety. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several models of anxiety in autistic adults have focused on the role of intolerance of uncertainty which has biological and evolutionary bases, as a cognitive explanation for the high prevalence of anxiety in autism. This framework suggests that all people are born with a healthy level of intolerance of uncertainty, and as we develop, this intolerance is lessened as we learn when situations are safe and begin to understand and manage the uncertainty. This process of learning about managing uncertainty does not happen in the same way in those who are high in autistic traits, which could be the reason for the high levels of anxiety symptoms commonly seen in this population. We examined archival data of 199 non-autistic and 55 autistic adults from prior studies in which we collected self-report measures of autistic traits, intolerance of uncertainty, sensory processing, and anxiety. We conducted two path analyses to examine the role of intolerance of uncertainty in anxiety in autistic adults. The first model tested the idea that intolerance of uncertainty, an evolutionary phenomenon common for all people, could explain some of the cognitive aspects of anxiety in autism. The second model suggests that primary neurodevelopmental differences associated with autistic traits underlie the sensory sensitivity and sensory seeking behaviors, which in turn increase intolerance of uncertainty and subsequent anxiety. We found that the “neurodevelopmental” model had better model fit than the “evolutionary stress” model, suggesting that the neurodevelopmental impact of higher levels of autistic traits could moderate a non-autistic trajectory of learning to manage uncertainty as children develop and understand that uncertainty is common and acceptable.
... Evolutionary psychology explained that emotions are adaptive mechanisms that help humans to respond to threats (Tooby & Cosmides, 2008). Anxiety, in particular, is an adaptive default emotion that signals the presence of threats and uncertainty, allowing one to act to avoid the impending danger (Brosschot et al., 2016;Buss, 1990). Affect heuristic explains how emotions as heuristic influence an individual's decision-making and proenvironmental behaviour based on previous experience (Pachur et al., 2012). ...
... However, recent conceptual models of the relationship between IU and anxiety in neurotypical people have suggested that a traditional therapeutic focus on mitigating fear responses in anxious individuals may be missing a more pertinent difficulty in recognising safety cues (see e.g. Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016). This aligns with neuroimaging work using fear conditioning paradigms (Top et al., 2016), which speculated that the reason for group differences between autistic and neurotypical individuals for amygdala and related brain function was not in response to fear cues, rather that threat response in the autism group remained elevated during safety conditions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Research on mental health in autism has quite rightly flourished over the past fifteen years, and there is now clear evidence that autistic people are at heightened risk of experiencing mental health concerns. Recent research has shown that common mental health conditions may be experienced differently by autistic people, meaning that assessment and intervention techniques that were developed with and for neurotypical individuals are potentially less sensitive and effective for those on the spectrum. The upshot of this work is that we need to get better at all of these aspects of identification, support and intervention and that will only be possible with a clear understanding of the mechanisms of mental distress for autistic people. The work described in Ozsivadjian et al. (2020) makes a welcome addition to this literature. In this commentary, we explore the strengths and limitations of the work and consider its contribution to research and clinical practice in the field of autism and mental health.
... The COVID-19 pandemic is a chronic stressor characterized by high levels of uncertainty throughout the population, through a variety of ways including: how it will spread, who it will affect, and when it will end (Koffman et al., 2020). Uncertainty has been found to cause increased stress responses experimentally (Miller, 1981), and naturally (Brosschot et al., 2016). When faced with uncertainty, people are naturally motivated to decrease uncertainty by gathering information (Berlyne, 1960) -a problem-focused coping strategy, but when that information is hard to come by or unreliable, they turn to other emotion-focused coping strategies (Miller, 1981). ...
Article
Full-text available
In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a large portion of the world into quarantine, leading to an extensive period of stress making it necessary to explore regulatory techniques that are effective at stimulating long-lasting positive emotion. Previous research has demonstrated that anticipating positive events produces increases in positive emotion during discrete stressors. We hypothesized that state and trait positive anticipation during the COVID-19 pandemic would be associated with increased positive emotions. We assessed how often participants thought about a future positive/negative/neutral event, activity, or goal through a daily reconstruction method that represented a “day in the life” of people in the United States during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of multi-level modeling and mediational analyses demonstrated that higher optimism, one form of trait positive anticipation, was related to higher state positive anticipation, which was in turn related to higher positive emotions during the current episode, which persisted to the next episode. In addition, both optimism and state positive anticipation were related to adaptive responses to the pandemic. These findings suggest that anticipation of future emotional experiences and hopefulness for the future can be a powerful predictor of positive emotions during global pandemics and perhaps other similar chronic stressors.
... When evaluating the psychological impacts incurred by the coronavirus outbreak, the duration of psychiatric symptoms should also be taken into consideration since acute psychological responses to stressful or traumatic events are sometimes protective and of evolutionary importance. 29,30 However, if the stressor persists, PTSD symptoms may become chronic, research has suggested that approximately 40% of affected individuals continue to exhibit significant symptoms 10 years after its onset. 31 In addition, individuals with PTSD are between 2 and 6 times more likely to present with psychiatric comorbidities, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic by a systematic review and single-arm meta-analysis. Methods: CNKI, PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE were searched to collect literature on the prevalence of PTSD in the general population during the epidemic. The retrieval time is from the database construction to 31/08/2020. Meta-analysis was performed on the included articles by using Review Manger 5.3 and Stata 16.0 software. Results: The prevalence of PTSD in the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic was 15% (95% CI: 11-21%, p<0.001). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic brought certain mental pain to general population, leading to a rise in the incidence of PTSD in a short time.
... It can also be a permanent emotional condition, a background emotional state, typically aroused by moments of uncertainty, unpredictability, judgement, competition, necessity to take a decision. In many situations, anxiety is a typical response to stress, and in the psychological literature it is described as an amorphous 'emotional disorder', a lack of equilibrium and serenity subject to clinical diagnosis (Brosschot et al., 2016). Overall, anxiety is considered to be an emotional state of worry, apprehension, concern, vaguely associated with feelings of menace. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this article is to investigate the role of anxiety as an emotional state frequently identified as the most characteristic of the history of modern Europe, and of the ‘Global North’. Starting from an assessment of the main supporters of this interpretation in social theory – such as the risk society approach of Ulrich Beck, and the role of expert knowledge in Anthony Giddens – the article discusses the current relevance and limitations of this well-established notion. The second part applies this discussion to the role of anxiety in the recent Covid-19 outbreak, and more specifically with regard to its relations with trust in scientific knowledge. Even though Covid-19 has been a global pandemic, this emergency can reveal some cultural and historical characteristics of European anxiety in the geo-cultural map of emotions.
... Given the potential promise of IU as a transdiagnostic target for mental health interventions (22)(23)(24)(25), understanding the neurobiological basis of IU has become paramount (26,27). From animal and human evidence, it is well established that uncertainty plays a fundamental role in the neurobiology of anxiety and stress (28)(29)(30)(31)(32)(33). However, only recently has research began to emerge on the importance of individual differences in IU in associative threat and safety learning mechanisms (27,34). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Intolerance of uncertainty (IU), the tendency to find uncertainty distressing, is an important transdiagnostic dimension in mental health disorders. Higher self-reported IU has been linked to poorer threat extinction training (i.e. the updating of threat to safe associations), a key process that is targeted in exposure-based therapies. However, it remains to be seen whether IU-related effects during threat extinction training are reliably and specifically driven by the IU construct or a particular subcomponent of the IU construct over other self-reported measures of anxiety. Methods A meta-analysis of studies from different laboratories (experiment n = 18; sample n = 1006) was conducted on associations between different variants of self-reported IU (i.e. 27-item, 12-item, inhibitory and prospective subscales), trait anxiety and threat extinction training via skin conductance response. The specificity of IU and threat extinction training was assessed against measures of trait anxiety. Results All of the self-reported variants of IU, but not trait anxiety, were associated with threat extinction training via skin conductance response (i.e. continued responding to the old threat cue). Specificity was observed for the majority of self-reported variants of IU over of trait anxiety. Conclusions The findings suggest that the IU construct broadly accounts for difficulties in threat extinction training and is specific over other measures of self-reported anxiety. These findings demonstrate the robustness and specificity of IU-related effects during threat extinction training and highlight potential opportunities for translational work to target uncertainty in therapies that rely on threat extinction principles such as exposure therapy.
... Theoretical explanations for the present moderation findings may however be related to the very nature of bullying as a stressor. The Generalised Unsafety Theory of Stress (GUTS) 63) proposes that it is not the perception of threat that causes a prolonged activation when exposed to a stressor, but rather the general and prolonged lack of safety perceived in the actual situation. According to GUTS, even when the stressors are no longer present, a prolonged and even chronic stress response can still occur within the individual. ...
Article
Full-text available
The study investigated relationships between exposure to bullying behaviours, return to work self-efficacy (RTW-SE) and resilience, and if resilience moderates the bullying-RTW-SE relationship among patients on sick leave or at risk of sick leave due to common mental disorders (CMD). A sample of 675 patients treated in an outpatient clinic was analysed using regressions and moderation analyses by employing SPSS and the Process macro SPSS supplement. The results showed a negative relationship between exposure to bullying behaviours and RTW-SE. There was also a positive main effect for resilience, as patients with high resilience score significantly higher on RTW-SE than patients with low resilience irrespective of levels of bullying. Further, the resilience sub-dimension personal resilience moderated the bullying-RTW-SE relationship, while the sub-dimension interpersonal resilience did not. Patients high on personal resilience showed relatively lower RTW-SE scores when exposed to bullying behaviours, compared to those that were not bullied with high personal resilience levels. Hence, one should take note of the fact that even if resilience may strengthen RTW-SE, bullying is an adverse event which particularly affects individuals who present with relatively high levels of resilience resources, at least when it comes to RTW-SE.
... Uncertainty about changes in contingency from threat to safety may delay threat extinction learning and retention (e.g. the reduction of anxious responses to old threat associations) (Bouton, 2002). Notably, uncertainty-related distress plays a fundamental role in anxiety and OCD (Brosschot et al., 2016;Carleton, 2016;Grupe & Nitschke, 2013;Pulcu & Browning, 2019). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Uncertainty-related distress is considered a hallmark of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD). Previous research in community samples has demonstrated that individuals with high Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU), the tendency to find uncertainty aversive, display altered threat extinction learning and retention. Here, we conducted an exploratory secondary analysis of an existing dataset (Steinman et al., 2022) to examine the extent to which IU in a clinical sample with anxiety and OCD predicts threat extinction learning and retention. Participants with an anxiety disorder and/or OCD completed a differential threat learning task across two days. SCR was used as an index of conditioned responding. No significant effects of self-reported IU were observed for differential SCR during any of the experimental phases. However, higher self-reported IU, while controlling for trait anxiety, was specifically associated with greater SCR overall during same-day and next-day extinction training. Such findings provide preliminary evidence that higher IU within clinical samples with anxiety and/or OCD may be associated with heightened arousal under uncertainty, and highlight IU as a promising treatment target for anxiety and OCD.
... While generic stress regulatory processes tend to direct humans toward handling stimuli as threats as the "default" mode [17], protective systems function to modulate this primary stress response by mitigating or augmenting it. The stress response is susceptible to be regulated at two points in time from the initial response. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background:Distrust of COVID-19 vaccines may hampervaccination campaigns. Wefocused on the cognitive determinants of intentions to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Wewere interested in (i) the effects of stress, and (ii) the effects of self-protection systems onattitudes and intentions to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.Methods:We conducted an online observational studywith 203 French students (MAge=19, SDAge= 2.52, Women = 173), in which we measured,through self-reportedquestionnaires, their perceived stress and vulnerability to disease, belief in a dangerousworld, pandemic-related stressors living conditions, attitudes and intentions to get vaccinated,and confidence in the government's management of COVID-19. We conducted two multiplelinear mediation analyses.Results:Participants who reported higher trust inthe government and who reported higherstress levels were more likely to have positive attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine,although both these influences seem to be –at least partially - independent.Conclusions:The factor that most robustly predictedboth attitudes and intentions tovaccinate was confidence in the information provided by the government and its ability tomanage the pandemic in general. Our analyses suggest the existence of two profiles of peoplelikely to have positive attitudes toward vaccination: those who trust the government and arenot stressed by vaccination, and those who do not trust the government but would getvaccinated to reduce their stress. We discuss how to improve the effectiveness of COVID-19vaccine policies through communication.
... In the context of actual danger, this reduction in vagal tone is useful in facilitating adaptive stress responses (e.g., fight or flight) (Maier & Watkins, 1998). Several studies, for example, have found short-term links between situational changes in perceptions of threat vs. safety and corresponding short-term changes in vagal tone (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2017Smith et al., 2020). Social baseline theory suggests that the absence of supportive others violates the default expectations of the brain, and is thus likely to create at least a mild degree of heightened experience of threat (Coan & Sbarra, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding whether and how the absence of positive relationships may predict longer-term physical health outcomes is central to building a working conceptual model of the interplay of social and physical development across the lifespan. This study sought to examine the extent to which difficulties establishing positive social relationships from adolescence onward serve as long-term predictors of low adult vagal tone, which in turn has been linked to numerous long-term health problems. A diverse community sample of 141 individuals was followed via multiple methods and reporters from age 13 to 29. Across this span, social relationship quality was assessed via close friend and peer reports, observations of romantic interactions, and self-reported romantic relationship satisfaction. A range of potential personality and functional covariates was also considered. Vagal tone while at rest was assessed at age 29. Adult vagal tone was predicted across periods as long as 16 years by: adolescents’ difficulty establishing themselves as desirable companions among peers; early adults’ inability to establish strong close friendships; and lack of warmth in romantic relationships as an adult. Poor early adult friendship quality statistically mediated the link from adolescent peer difficulties to adult vagal tone. A range of potential confounding factors was examined but was not linked to vagal tone. Within the limits of the correlational design of the study, robust connections between adult vagal tone and social relationship quality from adolescence onward suggest at least a possible mechanism by which relationship difficulties may get ‘under the skin’ to influence future physiological functioning.
... The default response to irreducible uncertainty is subjective and physiological stress, which, if prolonged, can lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. 1,29,30 While these are not definitively tied to professional uncertainty, students in our study frequently commented on their stress and burnout in the face of uncertainty. However, while participants described stress and anxiety during the residency application process, they frequently commented on how much less stressed they were when compared with the period leading up to Step 1. 9 This is notable, since the residency application period contains significantly more unknowns, and thus, arguably, more stressors, than the study period preceding ...
Article
Purpose: Uncertainty in medical decision making is a well-described phenomenon, and numerous scholars have acknowledged and illustrated the process of training medical students to grapple with this aspect of medical practice. While clinical uncertainty has been defined previously, medical trainees face additional forms of uncertainty beyond the clinical setting that have not, as yet, been investigated empirically. One area in which uncertainty can manifest outside of the clinical setting is during professional development. Medical students face substantial stress and ambiguity throughout their training, with the residency application period representing a culmination of these pressures. Here, the authors examined medical students' experiences during the residency application period and used these findings to define training for professional uncertainty. Method: In 2018-2019, 6 focus groups of fourth-year medical students were conducted exploring students' experiences during the residency application period, including but not limited to Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, away rotations, and securing letters of recommendation. The authors then used constructivist, phenomenological methods to analyze participant responses. Results: Students frequently discussed challenges they faced during the residency application period. From these conversations, 2 themes were identified: (1) professional uncertainty related to career-based advice, which resulted from mixed messaging and inadequate information and (2) professional uncertainty related to competing responsibilities, which students experienced when determining how to allocate a limited amount of time to multiple conflicting forces. Conclusions: These results were used to define a novel concept-training for professional uncertainty. By navigating the residency application process, students learned to face various facets of professional uncertainty that they will continue to face throughout their careers. Since uncertainty can have many negative effects, including declining performance and burnout, defining professional uncertainty and training students to grapple with it is necessary to maximize their success throughout their careers.
... These findings extend work demonstrating that, despite individual differences in valence bias (Kim et al., 2003;Neta et al., 2009), the initial response is negative (Neta & Whalen, 2010) and positivity arises from greater deliberation (Neta & Tong, 2016). This is also consistent with evidence that the default response to uncertainty is negative (Brosschot et al., 2016). We extend these findings by suggesting that increased deliberation (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Everyday social interactions hinge on our ability to resolve uncertainty in nonverbal cues. For example, although some facial expressions (e.g. happy, angry) convey a clear affective meaning, others (e.g. surprise) are ambiguous, in that their meaning is determined by the context. Here, we used mouse-tracking to examine the underlying process of resolving uncertainty. Previous work has suggested an initial negativity, in part via faster response times for negative than positive ratings of surprise. We examined valence categorizations of filtered images in order to compare faster (low spatial frequencies; LSF) versus more deliberate processing (high spatial frequencies; HSF). When participants categorised faces as “positive”, they first exhibited a partial attraction toward the competing (“negative”) response option, and this effect was exacerbated for HSF than LSF faces. Thus, the effect of response conflict due to an initial negativity bias was exaggerated for HSF faces, likely because these images allow for greater deliberation than the LSFs. These results are consistent with the notion that more positive categorizations are characterised by an initial attraction to a default, negative response.
... Such failure to obtain a cognitive closure or internal coherence may therefore lead adolescents to anxiety (Starcevic & Berle, 2006). Empirically, there is evidence supporting the relationship between uncertainty and anxiety (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016). Given that abundant evidence exists in previous research about the association between parenting or child-rearing and anxiety (English, Wisener, & Bailey, 2018;Chorot, Valiente, Magaz, Santed, & Sandin, 2017), our assumption that parenting by lying is positively associated with adolescent anxiety is both theoretically and empirically based. ...
Article
Research on family factors related to childhood and adolescent anxiety has primarily focused on explicitly negative parenting practices. Researchers have largely overlooked the influence of subtler parenting behaviors; for example, parenting by lying. Parenting by lying is a practice by which parents lie to their children to regulate their behavior. The current study examined the association between parenting by lying in childhood and adolescent anxiety, mediation of the parent-child attachment, and the gender difference in the mediation model. Adolescents (n = 912, M age = 13.64, SD age = 1.07) were recruited from five secondary schools in a city in central China. A total of 422 (46.3%) boys and 490 (53.7%) girls completed questionnaires on parenting by lying, parent-child attachment, and anxiety. The results indicated that parenting by lying was positively associated with anxiety, and the parent-child attachment mediates this association. Adolescent girls who experienced parenting by lying in childhood had a significantly lower level of parent-child attachment, whereas the effect was not significant for boys. This study highlights an interesting but underresearched parenting practice and helps to characterize its potential effect on adolescent mental health.
... While it is common to assume that feeling stressed is the typical response to stressors, anxiety is also considered a type of stress response to anticipated stressors and so the two constructs are often considered together (Brosschot et al., 2016). Both stress and anxiety are highly relevant to CVD, in two regards. ...
Article
Background and Objectives: Anxiety and stress influence the onset and prognosis of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but little is known about what CVD patients do when experiencing stress/anxiety. This study aimed to identify the behavioral strategies CVD patients use to regulate these emotions. Design: Instrumental and longitudinal. Methods: A theoretically-guided scale, the Stress and Anxiety Regulation Strategies (STARTS), was developed considering the target population’s characteristics. CVD patients were recruited at three different points (N T1 = 721, N T2 = 566, N T3 = 311). Results: At T1 exploratory factor analysis was conducted (random sample 1). The validity of the most parsimonious three-factor solution was subsequently found via confirmatory factor analysis at T1 (random sample 2), T2, and T3, revealing good and stable model fit. The factors represented strategies differentiated by the type and level of activity required (passive, intellectual, and physical strategies). The scale showed good test-retest reliability and internal consistency. Correlation and regression analyses with positive and negative affect, psychological wellbeing (stress, anxiety, depression), and cardiac self-efficacy provided evidence for the validity of STARTS score. Physical and passive strategies showed opposite patterns. Conclusions: The scale shows adequate psychometric properties for assessing the strategies used by CVD patients to regulate stress and anxiety. -- https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/BBBRSJCXHZHI6XUFPS8S/full?target=10.1080/10615806.2020.1866173
... For instance, citizens who see their government fail to act against the pandemic may wonder whether their government has done enough to protect them compared to other governments and thus feel less safe. According to neuroscientific and evolutionary research and theorizing, and in line with the Generalized Unsafety Theory of Stress, perceived unsafety is one of the crucial triggers for (chronic) stress response (Brosschot et al., 2016(Brosschot et al., , 2018. Future research should seek to clarify the potential mediating role of perceived unsafety between stringency and implementation lag of measures, and stress. ...
Article
Full-text available
To tackle the spread of COVID‐19, governments worldwide have implemented restrictive public health behavioural measures. Whether and when these measures lead to positive or negative psychological outcomes is still debated. In this study, drawing on a large sample of individuals (Ntotal = 89,798) from 45 nations, we investigated whether the stringency of public health measures implemented at the outset of the COVID‐19 pandemic in March–May 2020 was associated with individuals’ levels of stress and compliance. Moreover, we addressed the question of how these associations may be moderated by the measures’ implementation lag, nations’ tolerance for unequal distributions of power (i.e., power distance), and individuals’ institutional trust. Linear mixed models suggested that slower implementation of less stringent measures was associated with higher stress and lower compliance. Also, rapid implementation of stricter measures was associated with a mild increase in stress. Such effects were especially pronounced in countries with less tolerance for inequality. Albeit significant, the moderating effect of institutional trust was very small. The results suggest that it may be important to consider the measures’ implementation lag when tackling the spread of COVID‐19, but findings should be interpreted in relation to the data collection period.
... We have termed this the default stress response. It represents erring on the side of caution in that this ability to mount a rapid fight or flight response is basically always "on" unless safety is clearly recognized either consciously or more likely nonconsciously Thayer et al., 2012;Brosschot et al., 2016Brosschot et al., , 2017Brosschot et al., , 2018. It is interesting to note that Darwin also thought that these emotions of rage and fear could also be elicited without conscious awareness (Darwin, 1872(Darwin, /1999. ...
Article
Full-text available
Darwin emphasized the intimate relationship between the brain and the heart over 150 years ago. Healthy aging is associated with significant changes in both the brain and the heart. The changes between these, the two most important organs of the body, are linked via the vagus nerve. In this review we examine the normative changes with aging and the effect that stress may have on how the brain-heart connection changes with age. We provide a framework based on the concept of neurovisceral integration and propose that stress regulation is emotion regulation. As such, studies that have investigated emotion regulation may yield insights into successful stress regulation that helps protect people from age-related decline. In addition, interventions that improve brain health also improve heart health and vice versa. We conclude by noting that significant sex and ethnic differences exist but that future studies are needed to more fully explicate how they may moderate the associations between stress and aging.
... Eatough et al. 2016;Gerhardt et al. 2021;Marsland et al. 2017;Wirtz et al. 2013;Rau et al. 2001). Unwinding may be further prolonged by ruminating about the stressful situation (Blanco-Encomienda, García-Cantero, and Latorre-Medina 2020; Brosschot, Verkuil, and Thayer 2016;Firoozabadi, Uitdewilligen, and Zijlstra 2018). In sum, 'when negative activation is high, it is more difficult to gain mental distance to negative events experienced at work' (Sonnentag 2018, 175). ...
Article
This article presents some deliberations on methodological approaches to researching the effects of work-related social stress on performance, with particular consideration being given to machine-induced social stress. The article proposes a broad methodological approach to examine such effects. A particular focus is placed on performance after-effects (e.g. unscheduled probe tasks), extra-role behaviour, and task management behaviour because of conventional performance measures (i.e. scheduled tasks) often being unimpaired by social stressors. The role of the ‘performance protection mode’ as an important concept is discussed. A distinction is made between three facets of after-effects: performance-related, behavioural, and emotional. Unscheduled probe tasks and voluntary tasks are proposed to measure performance-related and behavioural after-effects. Propositions for specific experimental scenarios are made, allowing for sufficiently realistic simulations of social stress at work. The availability of such lab-based simulations of work environments offers good opportunities for this line of experimental research, which is expected to gain in importance since highly automated systems may modify the impact of human-induced social stress or may even represent a social stressor themselves. Finally, the considerations presented in this article are not only of relevance to the domain of social stress but to experimental stress research in general.
... In the early stage of the COVID-19 epidemic, uncertainty, unanticipated unemployment, and mandatory isolation caused adverse psychological effects. Given the relevance of psychological responses to traumatic or depressing experiences in evolution and protection (Brosschot et al., 2016), follow-up studies following the pandemic may be required to assess the long-standing mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
Article
Full-text available
This systematic review and meta-analysis generates evidence of the prevalence and associated factors of common mental disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) related to the pandemic among the Saudi general population. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, a comprehensive literature search was performed in the respective databases (e.g., PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science), from 22 July to 17 August 2021, and identified a total of 220 articles. Adhering to the inclusion criteria (i.e., original research concerning the prevalence and/or associated factors of depression and/or anxiety and/or stress disorders among the general Saudi population, published in English peer-reviewed journals), 15 studies were included in this review which consisted of a total of 262,656 participants. The overall prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress was 30% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 22% to 38%, I² = 99.58%), 20% (95% CI: 16% to 24%, I² = 99.32%), and 29% (95% CI: 11% to 47%, I² = 99.76%), respectively. Risk factors of mental health problems were found to be female sex, younger age group, single/divorced marital status, lower education, lower income, non-Saudis, unemployment status, students, being in a small family and living with elderly of the sociodemographic factors. Smokers, less physical activities, lower resilience, reduced immune status, chronic health problems, and psychiatric illness history were associated with a higher degree of mental health problems. In addition, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related risk factors of mental illness included lack of knowledge, fear, worry and concern, family member or friends’ infection or death, lockdown restrictions, quarantine, confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 infection, and even pandemic effects. In conclusion, appropriate mental health preventive approaches for the Saudi general people are highly needed, where this review can be worthy of help by providing in detailed information to the respective authorities.
... Therefore, not taking bodily states into account when trying to understand value-based decision-making potentially limits ecological validity. Moreover, clinical research shows that patients with anxiety-related disorders display chronically elevated autonomic activity (Brawman-Mintzer and Lydiard, 1997;Brosschot et al., 2016). Heightened autonomic activity likely underlies characteristic decision-making biases, including increased avoidance-a main symptom observed in anxiety patients (Hartley and Phelps, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Acutely challenging or threatening situations frequently require approach-avoidance decisions. Acute threat triggers fast autonomic changes that prepare the body to freeze, fight or flee. However, such autonomic changes may also influence subsequent instrumental approach-avoidance decisions. Since defensive bodily states are often not considered in value-based decision-making models, it remains unclear how they influence the decision-making process. Here, we aim to bridge this gap by discussing the existing literature on the potential role of threat-induced bodily states on decision making and provide a new neurocomputational framework explaining how these effects can facilitate or bias approach-avoid decisions under threat. Theoretical accounts have stated that threat-induced parasympathetic activity is involved in information gathering and decision making. Parasympathetic dominance over sympathetic activity is particularly seen during threat-anticipatory freezing, an evolutionarily conserved response to threat demonstrated across species and characterized by immobility and bradycardia. Although this state of freezing has been linked to altered information processing and action preparation, a full theoretical treatment of the interactions with value-based decision making has not yet been achieved. Our neural framework, which we term the Threat State/Value Integration (TSI) Model, will illustrate how threat-induced bodily states may impact valuation of competing incentives at three stages of the decision-making process, namely at threat evaluation, integration of rewards and threats, and action initiation. Additionally, because altered parasympathetic activity and decision biases have been shown in anxious populations, we will end with discussing how biases in this system can lead to characteristic patterns of avoidance seen in anxiety-related disorders, motivating future pre-clinical and clinical research.
Article
Background: Dyads receiving palliative care for advanced heart failure are at risk for the loss of feeling safe, experienced as a fractured sense of coherence, discontinuity in sense of self and relationships, and strained social connections and altered roles. However, few theory-based interventions have addressed feeling safe in this vulnerable population. Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the development of the Nostalgic Remembering Intervention to strengthen feeling safe and promote adaptive physiological and psychological regulation in dyads receiving palliative care for heart failure. Conclusions: Systematic intervention development is essential to understand what, for whom, why, and how an intervention works in producing outcomes. Program theory provided a systematic approach to the development of the Nostalgic Remembering Intervention, including conceptualization of the problem targeted by the intervention, specification of critical inputs and conditions that operationalize the intervention, and understanding the mediating processes leading to expected outcomes. Clinical implications: Creating a foundation for cardiovascular nursing research and practice requires continued, systematic development of theory-based interventions to best meet the needs of dyads receiving palliative care for heart failure. The development of the Nostalgic Remembering Intervention to strengthen feeling safe in dyads provides a novel and relevant approach.
Article
Background: Understanding diurnal secretion of cortisol in association with behavioral attitudes as a result of perception of unsafety environment is a main interest in prospective studies establishing the impact of chronic stress in cognitive processes. Adaptive secretion of cortisol, a biomarker of the hypothalamic-hypophysis-adrenal (HPA) axis, has been correlated with perception of uncertainty in surroundings as a consequence of perseverative cognition and unconscious thoughts. Objective: To determine whether diurnal secretion pattern of cortisol was associated with behavioral attitudes indexes generated from answers to standardized questionnaires from Panamerican Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) agencies. Methods: Saliva cortisol dynamic range was evaluated by immuno-essay. Cortisol awakening response (CAR) and total secreted cortisol was established in a cross-sectional study of four saliva samples per day from volunteers (n = 135) between 19 and 65 years old. Results: Saliva cortisol dynamic range followed a significant decay along the day. Reduction of social interaction and increase of defensive behavioral attitude was associated with older groups of age. In this study, two subgroups of subjects with a steeper cortisol secretion (slope significant non-zero), and flatter cortisol secretion (slope no significant non-zero) were detected. Noticeable, we detected and association between measurements of cortisol secretion from subjects with a flatter cortisol dynamic range and behavioral defensive and inhibition of social interaction indexes. Conclusion: These findings suggested chronical dysregulation of HPA axis as a result of perseverative cognitive perception of unsafety environment which may be precedent to cognitive impairment in the population.
Article
Several labels, such as neuroticism, negative emotionality, and dispositional negativity, indicate a broad dimension of psychopathology. However, largely separate, often disorder-specific research lines have developed that focus on different cognitive and affective characteristics that are associated with this dimension, such as perseverative cognition (worry, rumination), reduced autobiographical memory specificity, compromised fear learning, and enhanced somatic-symptom reporting. In this article, we present a theoretical perspective within a predictive-processing framework in which we trace these phenotypically different characteristics back to a common underlying "better-safe-than-sorry" processing strategy. This implies information processing that tends to be low in sensory-perceptual detail, which allows threat-related categorical priors to dominate conscious experience and for chronic uncertainty/surprise because of a stagnated error-reduction process. This common information-processing strategy has beneficial effects in the short term but important costs in the long term. From this perspective, we suggest that the phenomenally distinct cognitive and affective psychopathological characteristics mentioned above represent the same basic processing heuristic of the brain and are only different in relation to the particular type of information involved (e.g., in working memory, in autobiographical memory, in the external and internal world). Clinical implications of this view are discussed.
Article
Animals have sophisticated mechanisms for coping with danger. Freezing is a unique state that, upon threat detection, allows evidence to be gathered, response possibilities to be previsioned and preparations to be made for worst-case fight or flight. We propose that — rather than reflecting a passive fear state — the particular somatic and cognitive characteristics of freezing help to conceal overt responses, while optimizing sensory processing and action preparation. Critical for these functions are the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and acetylcholine, which modulate neural information processing and also control the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. However, the interactions between autonomic systems and the brain during freezing, and the way in which they jointly coordinate responses, remain incompletely explored. We review the joint actions of these systems and offer a novel computational framework to describe their temporally harmonized integration. This reconceptualization of freezing has implications for its role in decision-making under threat and for psychopathology. When anticipating a threat, many animals ‘freeze’, becoming temporarily immobile. Roelofs and Dayan argue that this response enables the coordination of cognitive and somatic processes that prepare the animal for action and describe how CNS, autonomic and sensorimotor activity must be integrated to regulate freezing.
Chapter
Based on the notion that the body is perceived as a unitary object, this chapter summarizes the bottom-up aspects of interoception in the broader sense (aka somatovisceral afference). It describes the homeostatic (visceral) and somatosensory pathways from the receptors to the major cortical centers, as well as the major levels of integration. The evolutionary theory by Craig on the development of body feelings in primates is also presented. Further, the neural correlates of affective feelings, i.e., core subjectivity, as well as recent neurocognitive approaches to the development of the doer/knower aspect of the self are described. The processes presented in this chapter are dominantly non-conscious, i.e., not directly related to body sensations. From the viewpoint of adaptation, the position of body-related information is complex. On the one hand, internal cues catching attention can distract us from more important external information and overload our limited attentional capacity. On the other hand, certain signals indicate the necessity of behavioral steps for the maintenance of homeostasis, thus their appearance in conscious awareness cannot be avoided. These signals have become marked with positive or negative affect (pleasure or displeasure) in the course of natural selection.
Article
Full-text available
Bevezetés: A bizonytalanságintolerancia egy egyén alapvető képtelenségét jelenti a negatív események előfordulásának, valamint az ilyen események be nem jósolhatóságának elvi selésére. Az ebből fakadó állandósult stressz és túlzott aggodalom súlyos fizikai és men tális problémákhoz vezethet. Korábbi tanulmányok eredményei szerint a jelenség a szo rongásos és a depresszív pszichiátriai zavarok alapja lehet. Célkitűzés: A jelen tanulmány célja a Bizonytalanságintolerancia Skála rövidített változatának pszichometriai elemzése egy megfelelően nagy és az életkor szempontjából diverz magyar anyanyelvű mintán. Módszer: A keresztmetszeti kutatás keretében összesen 1297 fő (300 férfi és 993 nő, 4 fő nem válaszolt) töltötte ki a kérdőívcsomagot. A résztvevők átlagéletkora 44,6 év (SD = 22,44 év; terjedelem: 18-83 év). A rövidített Bizonytalanságintolerancia Skála mellett a résztve vők kitöltötték a World Health Organization Jól-lét Indexet, valamint a Beck Depresszió Leltár és a Spielberger-féle Vonásszorongás Skála rövidített változatát. A Bizonytalanság intolerancia Skála pszichometriai mutatóit klasszikus és modern tesztelméleti mód szerekkel is ellenőriztük. Eredmények: A Bizonytalanságintolerancia Skála megfelelő pszichometriai mutatókkal rendelkezik a vizsgált magyar mintán (McDonaldω = 0,82 és 0,84). A kérdőív tételei jól diszkriminálnak a látens változó különböző szintjeivel rendel kező kitöltők között, és a kérdőív összességében megbízhatóan mér meglehetősen nagy szórástartományban (±2 szórás); tehát a bizonytalanságtűrés képességéről a populáció hozzávetőlegesen 95%-án képes információt szolgáltatni. A kérdőív skálái és össz-pontszáma az elvártak szerint összefüggést mutatnak rokon konstruktumokkal, mint pl. szorongás (r = 0,22-0,36; p < 0,001) és depresszió (r = 0,26-0,40; p < 0,001). Következtetések: Összességében a Bizonytalanságintolerancia Skála rövid változata magyar mintán is megbízható és érvényes kérdőív. Alkalmazható lehet a mentális egészség fejlesztése, a szorongás és a depresszió prevenciójára, valamint terápiás hatékonyságvizsgálat során is.
Article
Two studies employed a dissociative detachment induction technique to examine if experiences of dissociation increased acute shame feelings. Study 1 recruited college participants, while Study 2 enlisted adults attending treatment for childhood sexual abuse. Two hypotheses were explored: (1) more shame would be reported following a dissociative detachment induction than a relaxation induction; and (2) shame would increase when detachment was induced in the relationship context of a close other than when alone. Study 1 (N = 81) effectively induced detachment and participants reported higher shame in this condition compared to the relaxation condition. This effect was maintained when state anxiety was controlled. The relationship context produced no impact on dissociation or shame. Attributions around feeling flawed predominantly linked detachment experiences with subsequent shame feelings. In Study 2 with clinical participants (N = 28), regression analyses showed state shame was predicted by acute detachment after controlling for state anxiety, gender, and trait shame and dissociation. The most common appraisals offered for why detachment led to feelings of shame was being flawed and exposed. Collectively, our findings suggest that increased acute shame results from detachment experiences, making more specific the relationship between shame and dissociation.
Article
Objective: To determine the prevalent stress factors among new students to the Faculties of Nursing at the Faculties of Nursing at the Universities of Cadiz, Cordoba, Huelva and Seville, and the influence of socio-demographic, academic, socio-economic, orientation and health factors. Design: A descriptive, observational and cross-sectional study. Methodology: 617 first year nursing students were surveyed (with a 95.66 % response rate) by means of two questionnaires, one for socio-demographics and health, the other for the stress perceived by new students. A descriptive analysis of the stress factors was then carried out for the frequency, mean and standard deviation. The relation between factors was examined through differential analysis by means of the Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric tests. Results: The situations of greatest anxiety among new undergraduates are “taking examinations” and “the amount of work I have to do”. Consequently, the most stressful factor is “academic stress” whilst the least stressful is “feelings of loneliness”. The students who feel most stress across various factors can be identified as: over 25, women, studying outside their home province, and living in rented accommodation during the academic year. Conclusions: Starting a degree in nursing is a stressful time, and students can find their health, quality of life and academic performance negatively affected. The main determinants of stress among new undergraduates are the joint demands of examinations and workload. It would undoubtedly be enlightening to examine this issue further in order to find the possible causes of the problem and to develop strategies that can help in its prevention and so improve the students’ experience of university.
This paper draws on practice-informed, ethnographic research to develop an understanding of the novel social consequences and opportunities afforded from consumers' interactions with AI digital humans as part of the in-store shopping experience. We reveal and interrogate consumers’ experiences with AI digital humans in an exploratory study undertaken during the launch phase of an in-store kiosk digital store greeter in a flagship store of a large national technology and appliance chain. Our findings contribute to understanding the social significance of AI in retail on customer experience (CX) and the managerial implications of consumers interactions with AI digital humans are described and discussed.
Article
Safety perspectives of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) propose that safety perception is critical to regulating anxiety. Reduced safety processing may contribute to persistent worry and anxiety that extend to recognizably safe contexts. We explored whether individuals higher in worry and intolerance of uncertainty (IU), central characteristics of GAD, display poorer recognition and use of safety cues, and whether safety perception is related to anxiety. One hundred and eighty-two adults were presented with unfolding potentially threatening scenarios, half of which contained safety information. Participants rated how safe and anxiety-provoking each scenario was as they received new information, as well as overall. Using multilevel modelling, results showed that individuals higher in worry and IU recognize safety information and use it to appraise the safety of a situation. A moderate correlation between safety and anxiety ratings, and inconsistent correspondence between ratings of safety and anxiety, suggest this relationship is complicated by additional factors. Individuals higher in worry and IU may have difficulty accepting their safety appraisals in order to inhibit their anxiety. The implications of the findings and future avenues of research are discussed.
Article
Background and aim: The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how we can use nature cabins and their natural surroundings therapeutically. Method: Published research of relevance for this therapeutic practice is discussed in relation to and informed by experiences from practice, collected through conversations with therapists using the Outdoor care retreat at Rikshospitalet in Norway. Results: The literature review demonstrates how therapy in nature cabins can influence cognitive and emotional processes. All physical environments carry symbolic meanings; therefore, no therapy setting is neutral, and the setting will affect the client and therapist. Place attachment may contribute to create a safe foundation for exploration and self-development. The experiences from practice demonstrate how nature and natural objects are rich in potential for the creative application of symbols in therapy and opens for different stories on growth and development. Conclusions and implications: The evidence-based approach of this article supplies a therapeutic rationale to use cabins in natural surroundings more strategically for positive therapeutic outcomes. Keywords: nature, architecture, therapy settings, hospital environments
Article
Smiling has been a topic of interest to psychologists for decades, with a myriad of studies tying this behavior to well-being. Despite this, we know surprisingly little about the nature of the connections between smiling and physical health. We review the literature connecting both naturally occurring smiles and experimentally manipulated smiles to physical health and health-relevant outcomes. This work is discussed in the context of existing affect and health-relevant theoretical models that help explain the connection between smiling and physical health including the facial feedback hypothesis, the undoing hypothesis, the generalized unsafety theory of stress, and polyvagal theory. We also describe a number of plausible pathways, some new and relatively untested, through which smiling may influence physical health such as trait or state positive affect, social relationships, stress buffering, and the oculocardiac reflex. Finally, we provide a discussion of possible future directions, including the importance of cultural variation and replication. Although this field is still in its infancy, the findings from both naturally occurring smile studies and experimentally manipulated smile studies consistently suggest that smiling may have a number of health-relevant benefits including beneficially impacting our physiology during acute stress, improved stress recovery, and reduced illness over time.
Article
Full-text available
Background: The burden of mental disorders is likely to increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. Knowing the rate of psychological distress and mental disorders, its severity, and factors associated with psychological distress is strategical. Method: We analyzed online cross-sectional data from 164,881 health professionals and from 5,635 participants from the general population in Brazil. The Global Severity Index (GSI) from the Brief Symptom Inventory, self-reported diagnosis of mental disorders, sociodemographic characteristics, and factors related to Covid-19, such as physical health status, diagnosis and contact history, perceptions and concerns, and precautionary measures were compared between samples. Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate factors related to GSI scores. Results: Psychological distress was high or very high in 13.4% of health professionals and in 31.4% of the general population. Health professionals reported a lower rate of current or previous history of mental disorders (36%) than participants from the general population (44.7%). Age (younger) and gender (female) predicted higher psychological distress for health professionals and economic class (lower) and household size (more members) for the general population. People with higher GSI scores reported to have experienced more physical symptoms associated with Covid-19, feeling less productive at work, being afraid of transmitting the coronavirus to the family, fear of financial difficulties, and feeling that home relations were worse during the pandemic outbreak. Conclusions: Psychological distress at the first wave of Covid-19 was associated with sociodemographic features and an anxious perception of physical symptoms, virus transmission to loved ones, disruption of family relations, and financial situation.
Article
The Generalized Unsafety Theory of Stress posits that low heart rate variability contributes to a perception of “generalized unsafety” (i.e., constantly perceiving oneself to be unsafe), independent of stressful events or stress‐related symptomatology. We tested this claim by examining if resting heart rate variability, trait worry, posttraumatic stress symptoms, trauma history, and age of onset predicted fear inhibition, a measure of generalized unsafety. A Pavlovian discriminant conditioning paradigm was used to assess fear inhibition level by comparing eyeblink startle potentiation to a threat cue (presented with air blast) with startle potentiation to a safety signal (never presented with air blast). Survey and laboratory responses were collected from 42 adults who were 20 years old on average, 86% Women, and 76% White. Heart rate variability did not independently predict variation in fear inhibition, as hypothesized. Rather, higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms and greater cumulative interpersonal trauma predicted lower fear inhibition. Individuals reporting childhood trauma had higher trait worry, which predicted more severe posttraumatic stress symptoms. These findings highlight the role of attenuated inhibitory learning in stress‐related symptomatology and developmentally disruptive trauma. Ability to distinguish threat from safety is a plausible biobehavioral mechanism by which adversity impacts development.
Article
For over two decades, the minority stress model has guided research on the health of sexually-diverse individuals (those who are not exclusively heterosexual) and gender-diverse individuals (those whose gender identity/expression differs from their birth-assigned sex/gender). According to this model, the cumulative stress caused by stigma and social marginalization fosters stress-related health problems. Yet studies linking minority stress to physical health outcomes have yielded mixed results, suggesting that something is missing from our understanding of stigma and health. Social safety may be the missing piece. Social safety refers to reliable social connection, inclusion, and protection, which are core human needs that are imperiled by stigma. The absence of social safety is just as health-consequential for stigmatized individuals as the presence of minority stress, because the chronic threat-vigilance fostered by insufficient safety has negative long-term effects on cognitive, emotional, and immunological functioning, even when exposure to minority stress is low. We argue that insufficient social safety is a primary cause of stigma-related health disparities and a key target for intervention.
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic is a collective stressor unfolding over time, yet rigorous published empirical studies addressing mental health consequences of COVID-19 among large probability-based national samples are rare. Between 3/18-4/18/20, during an escalating period of illness and death in the United States, we assessed acute stress, depressive symptoms and direct, community, and media-based exposures to COVID-19 in three consecutive representative samples across three 10-day periods (total N=6,514) from the U.S. probability-based nationally representative NORC AmeriSpeak panel. Acute stress and depressive symptoms increased significantly over time as COVID-19 deaths increased across the U.S. Pre-existing mental and physical health diagnoses, daily hours of COVID-19-related media exposure, exposure to conflicting COVID-19 information in media, and secondary stressors were all associated with acute stress and depressive symptoms. Results have implications for targeting of public health interventions and risk communication efforts to promote community resilience as the pandemic waxes and wanes over time.
Article
Full-text available
The current review and synthesis was designed to provocatively develop and evaluate the proposition that “fear of the unknown may be a, or possibly the, fundamental fear” (Carleton, 2016) underlying anxiety and therein neuroticism. Identifying fundamental transdiagnostic elements is a priority for clinical theory and practice. Historical criteria for identifying fundamental components of anxiety are described and revised criteria are offered. The revised criteria are based on logical rhetorical arguments using a constituent reductionist postpositivist approach supported by the available empirical data. The revised criteria are then used to assess several fears posited as fundamental, including fear of the unknown. The review and synthesis concludes with brief recommendations for future theoretical discourse as well as clinical and non-clinical research.
Article
Full-text available
The current review and synthesis serves to define and contextualize fear of the unknown relative to related constructs, such as intolerance of uncertainty, and contemporary models of emotion, attachment, and neuroticism. The contemporary models appear to share a common core in underscoring the importance of responses to unknowns. A recent surge in published research has explored the transdiagnostic impact of not knowing on anxiety and related pathologies; as such, there appears to be mounting evidence for fear of the unknown as an important core transdiagnostic construct. The result is a robust foundation for transdiagnostic theoretical and empirical explorations into fearing the unknown and intolerance of uncertainty.
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of research has confirmed that workplace bullying is a source of distress and poor mental health. Here we summarize the cross-sectional and longitudinal literature on these associations. Systematic review and meta-analyses on the relation between workplace bullying and mental health. The cross-sectional data (65 effect sizes, N = 115.783) showed positive associations between workplace bullying and symptoms of depression (r = .28, 95% CI = .23-.34), anxiety (r = .34, 95% CI = .29-.40) and stress-related psychological complaints (r = .37, 95% CI = .30-.44). Pooling the literature that investigated longitudinal relationships (26 effect sizes, N = 54.450) showed that workplace bullying was related to mental health complaints over time (r = 0.21, 95% CI = 0.13-0.21). Interestingly, baseline mental health problems were associated with subsequent exposure to workplace bullying (r = 0.18, 95% CI = 0.10-0.27; 11 effect sizes, N = 27.028). All data were self-reported, raising the possibility of reporting- and response set bias. Workplace bullying is consistently, and in a bi-directional manner, associated with reduced mental health. This may call for intervention strategies against bullying at work.
Article
Full-text available
Many of the body’s adaptive responses, such as pain, fever, and fear, are defenses that remain latent until they are aroused by cues that indicate the presence of a threat. Natural selection should shape regulation mechanisms that express defenses only in situations where their benefits exceed their costs, but defenses are often expressed in situations where they seem unnecessary, with much resulting useless suffering. An explanation emerges from a signal detection analysis of the costs and benefits that shaped defense regulation mechanisms. Quantitative modeling of optimal regulation for all-ornone defenses and for continuously variable defenses leads to several conclusions. First, an optimal system for regulating inexpensive all-or-none defenses against the uncertain presence of large threats will express many false alarms. Second, the optimum level of expression for graded defenses is not at the point where the costs of the defense and the danger are equal, but is instead where the marginal cost of additional defense exceeds the marginal benefit. Third, in the face of uncertainty and skewed payoff functions, the optimal response threshold may not be the point with the lowest cost. Finally, repeated exposures to certain kinds of danger may adaptively lower response thresholds, making systems vulnerable to runaway positive feedback. While we await quantitative data that can refine such models, a general theoretical perspective on the evolution of defense regulation can help to guide research and assist clinical decision making.
Article
Full-text available
We tested the hypothesis that reduced rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC)-subcortical functional connectivity in depressed subjects might account for depression-related autonomic dysregulation. Ten healthy and ten depressed subjects categorized their immediate subjective emotional responses to picture sets while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging and electrocardiography. Using an rACC cluster commonly activated in both groups by emotion categorization as a seed region, we then performed voxel-wise functional connectivity analyses to examine rACC connectivity across the brain in depressed and control subjects. rACC had significantly stronger connectivity with a region of the inferior pons in controls than in depressed subjects. Within-subjects differences in rACC-pons connectivity also significantly correlated with measures of both heart rate variability and depression severity. These findings support the hypothesis that autonomic dysregulation in depression may be associated with a functional disconnection between rACC and autonomic brainstem nuclei. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Article
Full-text available
In addition to metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, obesity is associated with adverse cognitive and emotional outcomes. Its growing prevalence during adolescence is particularly alarming since recent evidence indicates that obesity can affect hippocampal function during this developmental period. Adolescence is a decisive period for maturation of the amygdala and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis, both required for lifelong cognitive and emotional processing. However, little data are available on the impact of obesity during adolescence on amygdala function. Herein, we therefore evaluate in rats whether juvenile high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity alters amygdala-dependent emotional memory and whether it depends on HPA axis deregulation. Exposure to HFD from weaning to adulthood, i.e., covering adolescence, enhances long-term emotional memories as assessed by odor-malaise and tone-shock associations. Juvenile HFD also enhances emotion-induced neuronal activation of the basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLA), which correlates with protracted plasma corticosterone release. HFD exposure restricted to adulthood does not modify all these parameters, indicating adolescence is a vulnerable period to the effects of HFD-induced obesity. Finally, exaggerated emotional memory and BLA synaptic plasticity after juvenile HFD are alleviated by a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist. Altogether, our results demonstrate that juvenile HFD alters HPA axis reactivity leading to an enhancement of amygdala-dependent synaptic and memory processes. Adolescence represents a period of increased susceptibility to the effects of diet-induced obesity on amygdala function. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/354092-12$15.00/0.
Article
Full-text available
It has been known for many years that the ability to exert behavioral control over an adverse event blunts the behavioral and neurochemical impact of the event. More recently, it has become clear that the experience of behavioral control over adverse events also produces enduring changes that reduce the effects of subsequent negative events, even if they are uncontrollable and quite different from the original event controlled. This review focuses on the mechanism by which control both limits the impact of the stressor being experienced and produces enduring, trans-situational "immunization". The evidence will suggest that control is detected by a corticostriatal circuit involving the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the posterior dorsomedial striatum (DMS). Once control is detected, other mPFC neurons that project to stress-responsive brainstem (dorsal raphe nucleus, DRN) and limbic (amygdala) structures exert top-down inhibitory control over the activation of these structures that is produced by the adverse event. These structures, such as the DRN and amygdala, in turn regulate the proximate mediators of the behavioral and physiological responses produced by adverse events, and so control blunts these responses. Importantly, the joint occurrence of control and adverse events seems to produce enduring plastic changes in the top-down inhibitory mPFC system such that this system is now activated by later adverse events even if they are uncontrollable, thereby reducing the impact of these events. Other issues are discussed that include a) whether other processes such as safety signals and exercise, that lead to resistance/resilience, also use the mPFC circuitry or do so in other ways; b) whether control has similar effects and neural mediation in humans, and c) the relationship of this work to clinical phenomena.
Article
Full-text available
Moods can be regarded as fluctuating dispositions to make positive and negative evaluations. Developing an evolutionary approach to mood as an adaptive process, we consider the structure and function of such states in guiding behavioural decisions regarding the acquisition of resources and the avoidance of harm in different circumstances. We use a drift diffusion model of decision making to consider the information required by individuals to optimise decisions between two alternatives, such as whether to approach or withdraw from a stimulus that may be life enhancing or life threatening. We show that two dimensions of variation (expectation and preparedness) are sufficient for such optimal decisions to be made. These two dispositional dimensions enable individuals to maximize the overall benefits of behavioural decisions by modulating both the choice made (e.g., approach/withdraw) and decision speed. Such a structure is compatible with circumplex models of subjectively experienced mood and core affect, and provides testable hypotheses concerning the relationships that occur between valence and arousal components of mood in differing ecological niches. The paper is therefore a useful step toward being able to predict moods (and the effect of moods) using an optimality approach.
Article
Full-text available
This study aimed to investigate whether interindividual differences in autonomic inhibitory control predict safety learning and fear extinction in an interoceptive fear conditioning paradigm. Data from a previously reported study (N = 40) were extended (N = 17) and re-analyzed to test whether healthy participants' resting heart rate variability (HRV) - a proxy of cardiac vagal tone - predicts learning performance. The conditioned stimulus (CS) was a slight sensation of breathlessness induced by a flow resistor, the unconditioned stimulus (US) was an aversive short-lasting suffocation experience induced by a complete occlusion of the breathing circuitry. During acquisition, the paired group received 6 paired CS-US presentations; the control group received 6 explicitly unpaired CS-US presentations. In the extinction phase, both groups were exposed to 6 CS-only presentations. Measures included startle blink EMG, skin conductance responses (SCR) and US-expectancy ratings. Resting HRV significantly predicted the startle blink EMG learning curves both during acquisition and extinction. In the unpaired group, higher levels of HRV at rest predicted safety learning to the CS during acquisition. In the paired group, higher levels of HRV were associated with better extinction. Our findings suggest that the strength or integrity of prefrontal inhibitory mechanisms involved in safety- and extinction learning can be indexed by HRV at rest.
Article
Full-text available
Background Research on the biopsychological background of social phobia (SP) is scarce and inconsistent. We investigated endocrine and autonomic markers along with subjective responses to a standardized stress situation (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) in SP patients and healthy controls (HC). Methods We examined 88 patients with the primary diagnosis of SP as well as 78 age and sex comparable HCs with the TSST. Blood and saliva samples were obtained before and after the TSST for the assessment of salivary cortisol, plasma cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), and prolactin. Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded continuously. Scalp-near hair samples were collected for the assessment of long-term cortisol secretion. The self-reported stress response was measured with different state and trait scales. Results While self-reported anxiety was elevated in SP before, during, immediately after, and one week after the TSST, no significant differences in biological stress responses were observed between SP and HC. There was a trend for SP to show higher baseline stress markers. Also long-term cortisol deposition in hair remained unaltered. Conclusions Our results suggest that the excessive self-reported stress in SP is not reflected by a respective biological stress response. Patients with SP apparently show neither an extreme form of focused fear reactivity nor excessive defensive impairment.
Article
Full-text available
Social isolation has been recognized as a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality in humans for more than a quarter of a century. Although the focus of research has been on objective social roles and health behavior, the brain is the key organ for forming, monitoring, maintaining, repairing, and replacing salutary connections with others. Accordingly, population-based longitudinal research indicates that perceived social isolation (loneliness) is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality independent of objective social isolation and health behavior. Human and animal investigations of neuroendocrine stress mechanisms that may be involved suggest that (a) chronic social isolation increases the activation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical axis, and (b) these effects are more dependent on the disruption of a social bond between a significant pair than objective isolation per se. The relational factors and neuroendocrine, neurobiological, and genetic mechanisms that may contribute to the association between perceived isolation and mortality are reviewed. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 66 is November 30, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Article
Full-text available
Modern anxiety disorder models implicitly include intolerance of uncertainty (IU) as a critical component for the development and maintenance of these pervasive social and economic concerns. IU represents, at its core, fear of the unknown – a long-recognized, deep-seated fear identified in normative and pathological samples. Indeed, the intrinsic nature of IU can be argued as evolutionarily supported, a notion buttressed by initial biophysiological evidence from uncertainty-related research. Originally thought to be specific to generalized anxiety disorder, recent research has clearly demonstrated that IU is a broad transdiagnostic dispositional risk factor for the development and maintenance of clinically significant anxiety. The available evidence suggests that theorists, researchers and clinicians may benefit from explicitly incorporating IU into models, research designs, case conceptualizations and as a treatment target.
Article
Full-text available
Sublethal injury triggers long-lasting sensitization of defensive responses in most species examined, suggesting the involvement of powerful evolutionary selection pressures [1]. In humans, this persistent nociceptive sensitization is often accompanied by heightened sensations of pain and anxiety [2]. While experimental [3] and clinical [4] evidence support the adaptive value of immediate nociception during injury, no direct evidence exists for adaptive benefits of long-lasting sensitization after injury. Recently, we showed that minor injury produces long-term sensitization of behavioral and neuronal responses in squid, Doryteuthis pealei [5, 6]. Here we tested the adaptive value of this sensitization during encounters between squid and a natural fish predator. Locomotion and other spontaneous behaviors of squid that received distal injury to a single arm (with or without transient anesthesia) showed no measurable impairment 6 hr after the injury. However, black sea bass given access to freely swimming squid oriented toward and pursued injured squid at greater distances than uninjured squid, regardless of previous anesthetic treatment. Once targeted, injured squid began defensive behavioral sequences [7, 8] earlier than uninjured squid. This effect was blocked by brief anesthetic treatment that prevented development of nociceptive sensitization [6, 9]. Importantly, the early anesthetic treatment also reduced the subsequent escape and survival of injured, but not uninjured, squid. Thus, while minor injury increases the risk of predatory attack, it also triggers a sensitized state that promotes enhanced responsiveness to threats, increasing the survival (Darwinian fitness) of injured animals during subsequent predatory encounters.
Article
Full-text available
The ability to recognize and properly respond to instances of protection from impending danger is critical for preventing chronic stress and anxiety-central symptoms of affective disorders afflicting large populations of people. Learned safety encompasses learning processes, which lead to the identification of episodes of security and regulation of fear responses. Based upon insights into the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms involved in learned safety in mice and humans, we describe learned safety as a tool for understanding neural mechanisms involved in the pathomechanisms of specific affective disorders. This review summarizes current knowledge on the neurobiological underpinnings of learned safety and discusses potential applications in basic and translational neurosciences.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 21 August 2013. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.191.
Article
Full-text available
Perception informs people about the opportunities for action and their associated costs. To this end, explicit awareness of spatial layout varies not only with relevant optical and ocular-motor variables, but also as a function of the costs associated with performing intended actions. Although explicit awareness is mutable in this respect, visually guided actions directed at the immediate environment are not. When the metabolic costs associated with walking an extent increase-perhaps because one is wearing a heavy backpack-hills appear steeper and distances to targets appear greater. When one is standing on a high balcony, the apparent distance to the ground is correlated with one's fear of falling. Perceiving spatial layout combines the geometry of the world with behavioral goals and the costs associated with achieving these goals. © 2006 Association for Psychological Science.
Article
Full-text available
Results Among women who were married or cohabiting with a male partner (n=187), marital stress was associated with a 2.9-fold (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.3-6.5) increased risk of recurrent events after adjustment for age, estrogen status, education level, smoking, diagnosis at index event, diabetes mellitus, systolic blood pressure, smok- ing, triglyceride level, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and left ventricular dys- function. Among working women (n=200), work stress did not significantly predict recurrent coronary events (hazard ratio, 1.6; 95% CI, 0.8-3.3).
Article
Full-text available
Uncertainty about a possible future threat disrupts our ability to avoid it or to mitigate its negative impact and thus results in anxiety. Here, we focus the broad literature on the neurobiology of anxiety through the lens of uncertainty. We identify five processes that are essential for adaptive anticipatory responses to future threat uncertainty and propose that alterations in the neural instantiation of these processes result in maladaptive responses to uncertainty in pathological anxiety. This framework has the potential to advance the classification, diagnosis and treatment of clinical anxiety.
Article
Full-text available
Social fear and avoidance of social situations represent the main behavioral symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), a highly prevalent anxiety disorder that is poorly elucidated and has rather unsatisfactory therapeutic options. Therefore, animal models are needed to study the underlying etiology and pathophysiology of SAD and to verify the efficacy of possible novel treatment approaches. In this review, we describe and discuss the most important paradigms that have been shown to induce social avoidance and fear in rodents, including foot shock exposure, restraint stress, social isolation, social instability, social defeat, conditioned defeat, social defeat/overcrowding, chronic subordinate colony housing, chronic mild stress, maternal separation and social fear conditioning. We also describe some of the behavioral paradigms used to assess social avoidance and fear in rodents, including the social interaction test, the social preference-avoidance test, the social approach-avoidance test, the three-chambered social approach test, the partition test and the modified Y-maze test. We focus on the behavioral alterations these paradigms induce, especially on social interaction, general anxiety and depressive-like behavior given that SAD is strongly comorbid with anxiety and affective disorders.
Article
Full-text available
Contexts surround and imbue meaning to events; they are essential for recollecting the past, interpreting the present and anticipating the future. Indeed, the brain's capacity to contextualize information permits enormous cognitive and behavioural flexibility. Studies of Pavlovian fear conditioning and extinction in rodents and humans suggest that a neural circuit including the hippocampus, amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex is involved in the learning and memory processes that enable context-dependent behaviour. Dysfunction in this network may be involved in several forms of psychopathology, including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders.
Article
Full-text available
review some of the empirically determined characteristics of worry / suggest theoretical perspectives that may account for the functions and origins of this ubiquitous process nature of worry [conceptual and imaginal cognitive activity, affective experience of worry, attentional activity and memory retrieval, behavioral responding, physiological activity] / functions of worry [cognitive avoidance of threat, inhibition of emotional processing] / origins of chronic worry and [generalized anxiety disorder] GAD [history of trauma, insecure attachment in childhood] (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Understanding generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and developing interventions for its amelioration could contribute significantly to the understanding and treatment of all adult emotional disorders. GAD has a fairly high prevalence rate, is often associated with multiple additional Axis I diagnoses, and is a frequent comorbid condition for other anxiety and mood disorders. Moreover, worry is pervasive across all anxiety and depression problems. Learning about worry could teach us a considerable amount about human ways of being. We have been attempting to acquire basic knowledge about GAD and worry, and to develop effective forms of psychological intervention for over two decades. We have added several key components to traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches over the years, including teaching clients to focus on the present moment, to value tasks based on their intrinsic value rather than solely their eventual outcomes, and to deepen interpersonal and emotional contact with events. This chapter describes some of our specific interventions. We begin with general comments about the nature of human anxiety, which provide a context relevant to our development of GAD interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Individuals in adult attachment relationships regulate one another via overt emotional and social behavior. Attachment-related styles of utilizing social support moderate these regulatory effects. In recent years, the social and affective neurosciences have begun to clarify how these processes are instantiated in the brain, including the likely neural mechanisms of long-term felt security following past attachment experiences and the neural circuitry supporting the regulation of emotion by relational partners. In this brief review, I describe the neural systems involved in the formation and maintenance of adult attachment relationships and review the small amount of work to date on the neuroscience of adult attachment style. I then offer my own speculations about how adult attachment relationships conserve the brain’s metabolic resources, especially those of the prefrontal cortex.
Article
Full-text available
Many of the body's adaptive responses, such as pain, fever, and fear, are defenses that remain latent until they are aroused by cues that indicate the presence of a threat. Natural selection should shape regulation mechanisms that express defenses only in situations where their benefits exceed their costs, but defenses are often expressed in situations where they seem unnecessary, with much resulting useless suffering. An explanation emerges from a signal detection analysis of the costs and benefits that shaped defense regulation mechanisms. Quantitative modeling of optimal regulation for all-or-none defenses and for continuously variable defenses leads to several conclusions. First, an optimal system for regulating inexpensive all-or-none defenses against the uncertain presence of large threats will express many false alarms. Second, the optimum level of expression for graded defenses is not at the point where the costs of the defense and the danger are equal, but is instead where the marginal cost of additional defense exceeds the marginal benefit. Third, in the face of uncertainty and skewed payoff functions, the optimal response threshold may not be the point with the lowest cost. Finally, repeated exposures to certain kinds of danger may adaptively lower response thresholds, making systems vulnerable to runaway positive feedback. While we await quantitative data that can refine such models, a general theoretical perspective on the evolution of defense regulation can help to guide research and assist clinical decision making.
Article
Full-text available
Prospect theory scholars have identified important human decision-making biases, but they have been conspicuously silent on the question of the origin of these biases. Here we create a model that shows preferences consistent with prospect theory may have an origin in evolutionary psychology. Specifically, we derive a model from risk-sensitive optimal foraging theory to generate an explanation for the origin and function of context-dependent risk aversion and risk seeking behavior. Although this model suggests that human cognitive architecture evolved to solve particular adaptive problems related to finding sufficient food resources to survive, we argue that this same architecture persists and is utilized in other survival-related decisions that are critical to understanding political outcomes. In particular, we identify important departures from standard results when we incorporate prospect theory into theories of spatial voting and legislator behavior, international bargaining and conflict, and economic development and reform.
Article
Full-text available
This review evaluates evidence of attentional biases in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depressive disorder from studies using modified Stroop and visual probe tasks. There appears to be fairly consistent evidence for an attentional bias for external negative cues in GAD, and for the involvement of non-conscious processes in this bias. By contrast, in clinical depression, the evidence for an attentional bias is less robust, despite depressive disorder being commonly associated with high levels of co-morbid anxiety. Where an attentional bias has been found in depressed patients, it seems to occur mainly for self-relevant negative information which is presented under conditions that allow or encourage elaborative processing. Possible explanations for this discrepant pattern of results, and their theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Experiential factors shape the neural circuits underlying social and emotional behavior from the prenatal period to the end of life. These factors include both incidental influences, such as early adversity, and intentional influences that can be produced in humans through specific interventions designed to promote prosocial behavior and well-being. Here we review important extant evidence in animal models and humans. Although the precise mechanisms of plasticity are still not fully understood, moderate to severe stress appears to increase the growth of several sectors of the amygdala, whereas the effects in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex tend to be opposite. Structural and functional changes in the brain have been observed with cognitive therapy and certain forms of meditation and lead to the suggestion that well-being and other prosocial characteristics might be enhanced through training.
Article
Full-text available
Chronic stress has been linked to hypertension, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly specified. We suggest that chronic stress poses a risk for hypertension through repeated occurrence of acute stressors (often stemming from the chronic stress context) that cause activation of stress-mediating physiological systems. Previous models have often focused on the magnitude of the acute physiological response as a risk factor; we attempt to extend this to address the issue of duration of exposure. Key to our model is the notion that these acute stressors can emerge not only in response to stressors present in the environment, but also to mental representations of those (or other) stressors. Consequently, although the experience of any given stressor may be brief, a stressor often results in a constellation of negative cognitions and emotions that form a mental representation of the stressor. Ruminating about this mental representation of the stressful event can cause autonomic activation similar to that observed in response to the original incident, and may occur and persist long after the event itself has ended. Thus, rumination helps explain how chronic stress causes repeated (acute) activation of one's stress-mediating physiological systems, the effects of which accumulate over time, resulting in hypertension risk.