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Preview: Emotion - Vol 9, Iss 6

Emotion - Vol 17, Iss 1

Emotion publishes significant contributions to the study of emotion from a wide range of theoretical traditions and research domains. Emotion includes articles that advance knowledge and theory about all aspects of emotional processes, including reports o

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Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Homesickness and adjustment across the first year of college: A longitudinal study.


Homesickness can put individuals at risk for a host of adjustment difficulties. The millions of students that leave home for college each year may be particularly susceptible to experiencing homesickness. There is little work, however, examining individual variation in homesickness over time and how these changes predict different outcomes in college. The present study examines weekly levels of homesickness during the first term of college and tests the associations between homesickness and various aspects of adjustment. Results showed that, on average, homesickness decreased slightly across the first semester of college, but there were individual differences in homesickness trajectories. Freshmen who reported higher levels of homesickness showed worse overall adjustment to college, even when controlling for negative emotional experience and prior adjustment. Homesickness was associated with poorer social outcomes, but these social difficulties were limited to interactions with others in the college environment. Academic outcomes were not adversely impacted by homesickness. Findings suggest that homesickness is a common experience for freshmen, and, despite its relatively transient nature, homesickness has important implications for college adjustment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

How does social anger expression predict later depression symptoms? It depends on how often one is angry.


Research has suggested that there are benefits to socially sharing anger as an emotion regulation strategy. We hypothesized that these benefits may depend on the frequency with which one is experiencing anger. We used an experience sampling methodology to explore the interaction between frequency of anger and reliance on social expression of anger as a predictor of changes in depression symptoms 4 months later. We found that a strong reliance on social expression prospectively predicted lower depression symptoms when participants endorsed anger infrequently but predicted an increase in subsequent depression symptoms when anger was endorsed frequently. This interaction was specific to anger and did not extend to sadness or anxiety. These results highlight the importance of considering the effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies in the context of specific emotions and the frequency of the experienced emotion in everyday life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Maternal depression and anxiety, social synchrony, and infant regulation of negative and positive emotions.


Maternal postpartum depression (PPD) exerts long-term negative effects on infants; yet the mechanisms by which PPD disrupts emotional development are not fully clear. Utilizing an extreme-case design, 971 women reported symptoms of depression and anxiety following childbirth and 215 high and low on depressive symptomatology reported again at 6 months. Of these, mothers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (n = 22), anxiety disorders (n = 19), and controls (n = 59) were visited at 9 months. Mother-infant interaction was microcoded for maternal and infant’s social behavior and synchrony. Infant negative and positive emotional expression and self-regulation were tested in 4 emotion-eliciting paradigms: anger with mother, anger with stranger, joy with mother, and joy with stranger. Infants of depressed mothers displayed less social gaze and more gaze aversion. Gaze and touch synchrony were lowest for depressed mothers, highest for anxious mothers, and midlevel among controls. Infants of control and anxious mothers expressed less negative affect with mother compared with stranger; however, maternal presence failed to buffer negative affect in the depressed group. Maternal depression chronicity predicted increased self-regulatory behavior during joy episodes, and touch synchrony moderated the effects of PPD on infant self-regulation. Findings describe subtle microlevel processes by which maternal depression across the postpartum year disrupts the development of infant emotion regulation and suggest that diminished social synchrony, low differentiation of attachment and nonattachment contexts, and increased self-regulation during positive moments may chart pathways for the cross-generational transfer of emotional maladjustment from depressed mothers to their infants. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The influence of facial sex cues on emotional expression categorization is not fixed.


The speed of recognizing facial expressions of emotion is influenced by a range of factors including other concurrently present facial attributes, like a person’s sex. Typically, when participants categorize happy and angry expressions on male and female faces, they are faster to categorize happy than angry expressions displayed by females, but not displayed by males. Using the same emotional faces across tasks, we demonstrate that this influence of sex cues on emotion categorization is dependent on the other faces recently encountered in an experiment. Altering the salience of gender by presenting male and female faces in separate emotion categorization tasks rather than together in a single task changed the influence of sex cues on emotion categorization, whereas changing the evaluative dimension by presenting happy and angry expressions in separate tasks alongside neutral faces rather than together within 1 task did not. These results suggest that the way facial attributes influence emotion categorization depends on the situation in which the faces are encountered and specifically on what information is made salient within or across tasks by other recently encountered faces. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Positive emotion, appraisal, and the role of appraisal overlap in positive emotion co-occurrence.


Appraisal research has traditionally focused on negative emotions but has not addressed issues concerning the relationships between several positive emotions and appraisals in daily life and the extent to which co-occurrence of positive emotions can be explained by overlap in appraisals. Driven by a priori hypotheses on appraisal-emotion relationships, this study investigated 12 positive emotions and 13 appraisal dimensions using Ecological Momentary Assessment. The results provide strong evidence that positive emotions and appraisals correlate significantly in daily life. Importantly, we found that the positive emotions’ overlap on theoretically relevant, as compared to irrelevant, appraisals was stronger and more predictive of their co-occurrence. Furthermore, appraisal overlap on theoretically relevant appraisals predicted the co-occurrence of positive emotions even when the appraisal of pleasantness was excluded, indicating that positive emotions do not co-occur just by virtue of their shared valence. Our findings affirmed and refined the appraisal profiles of positive emotions and underscore the importance of appraisals in accounting for the commonality and differences among positive emotions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Felt power explains the link between position power and experienced emotions.


The approach/inhibition theory by Keltner, Gruenfeld, and Anderson (2003) predicts that powerful people should feel more positive and less negative emotions. To date, results of studies investigating this prediction are inconsistent. We fill this gap with four studies in which we investigated the role of different conceptualizations of power: felt power and position power. In Study 1, participants were made to feel more or less powerful and we tested how their felt power was related to different emotional states. In Studies 2, 3, and 4, participants were assigned to either a high or a low power role and engaged in an interaction with a virtual human, after which participants reported on how powerful they felt and the emotions they experienced during the interaction. We meta-analytically combined the results of the four studies and found that felt power was positively related to positive emotions (happiness and serenity) and negatively to negative emotions (fear, anger, and sadness), whereas position power did not show any significant overall relation with any of the emotional states. Importantly, felt power mediated the relationship between position power and emotion. In summary, we show that how powerful a person feels in a given social interaction is the driving force linking the person’s position power to his or her emotional states. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Effort in emotion work and well-being: The role of goal attainment.


It is well established that regulating one’s emotion display in social settings entails psychological costs such as lower well-being. However, regulating emotion display may also help achieving goals, and goal attainment is known to enhance well-being. We therefore investigated the hypothesis that success in attaining goals during social interactions would reduce the negative impact of regulatory effort on well-being. In an experience sampling study, 115 Swiss employees reported their social encounters for 7 consecutive days. For each interaction, participants were asked to report their effort in regulating their emotions, their level of goal attainment, and their momentary well-being after the interaction. Data being nested (Level 1: interactions; Level 2: person), multilevel analyses were conducted. Continuous level 1 predictors were group mean centered, implying that their effects on well-being were strictly intraindividual. Gender, age, extraversion, and neuroticism were controlled on the person level, the context of the interaction (private vs. work) as well as positive and negative emotions felt during the social encounter were controlled on the situation level. Analysis of 1,674 social interactions containing a goal confirmed that regulatory effort predicted lower well-being after social interactions (Hypothesis 1), that degree of goal attainment predicted better well-being after these interactions (Hypothesis 2), and that degree of goal attainment buffered the negative effect of effort (Hypothesis 3). Research and theory should pay more attention to the fact that emotions often are regulated in the service of goals, and that attaining these goals may, at least partially, compensate for the effort invested. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

No experimental evidence for visual prior entry of angry faces, even when feeling afraid.


Threatening stimuli prevent attentional disengagement. Less clear is whether threat captures attention in addition to holding it. One way to measure attentional capture is to examine visual prior entry. Visual prior entry occurs when one stimulus is consciously recognized as appearing prior to other stimuli. Using a temporal order judgments paradigm, we examined whether threatening, angry faces would experience visual prior entry. Such a finding would provide evidence for attentional capture by threat. We further examined whether such attentional capture by threat was contingent on feeling afraid. Using Bayesian analyses, we found moderate support for the null hypothesis in 2 experiments (Ns = 44, 63). Angry faces did not capture attention, and there was no effect of feeling afraid because of watching a horror movie (Experiment 1) or anticipatory fear about giving a speech in front of an expert panel (Experiment 2). These studies were supplemented with a meta-analysis that suggests the visual prior entry effect is very small, if indeed it exists. Thus, the visual prior entry effect for threatening faces is likely a much smaller effect than the extant literature suggests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Is set shifting really impaired in trait anxiety? Only when switching away from an effortfully established task set.


The current study investigated whether trait anxiety was systematically related to task-set shifting performance, using a task-switching paradigm in which 1 task was more attentionally demanding than the other. Specifically, taking advantage of a well-established phenomenon known as asymmetric switch costs, we tested the hypothesis that the association between trait anxiety and task-set shifting is most clearly observed when individuals must switch away from a more attentionally demanding task for which it was necessary to effortfully establish an appropriate task set. Ninety-one young adults completed an asymmetric switching task and trait-level mood questionnaires. Results indicated that higher levels of trait anxiety were systematically associated with greater asymmetry in reaction time (RT) switch costs. Specifically, the RT costs for switching from the more attentionally demanding task to the less demanding task were significantly greater with higher levels of trait anxiety, whereas the RT costs for switching in the opposite direction were not significantly associated with trait anxiety levels. Further analyses indicated that these associations were not attributable to comorbid dysphoria or worry. These results suggest that levels of trait anxiety may not be related to general set-shifting ability per se, but, rather, that anxiety-specific effects may primarily be restricted to when one must efficiently switch away from (or let go of) an effortfully established task set. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Emotionally negative pictures enhance gist memory.


In prior work on how true and false memory are influenced by emotion, valence and arousal have often been conflated. Thus, it is difficult to say which specific effects are caused by valence and which are caused by arousal. In the present research, we used a picture-memory paradigm that allowed emotional valence to be manipulated with arousal held constant. Negatively valenced pictures elevated both true and false memory, relative to positive and neutral pictures. Conjoint recognition modeling revealed that negative valence (a) reduced erroneous suppression of true memories and (b) increased the familiarity of the semantic content of both true and false memories. Overall, negative valence impaired the verbatim side of episodic memory but enhanced the gist side, and these effects persisted even after a week-long delay. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Emotional memory: No source memory without old–new recognition.


Findings reported in the memory literature suggest that the emotional components of an encoding episode can be dissociated from nonemotional memory. In particular, it has been found that the previous association with threatening events can be retrieved in aversive conditioning even in the absence of item identification. In the present study, we test whether emotional source memory can be independent of item recognition. Participants saw pictures of snakes paired with threatening and nonthreatening context information (poisonousness or nonpoisonousness). In the source memory test, participants were required to remember whether a snake was associated with poisonousness or nonpoisonousness. A simple extension of a well-established multinomial source monitoring model was used to measure source memory for unrecognized items. By using this model, it was possible to assess directly whether participants were able to associate a previously seen snake with poisonousness or nonpoisonousness even if the snake itself was not recognized as having been presented during the experiment. In 3 experiments, emotional source memory was only found for recognized items. While source memory for recognized items differed between emotional and nonemotional information, source memory for unrecognized items was equally absent for emotional and nonemotional information. We conclude that emotional context information is bound to item representations and cannot be retrieved in the absence of item recognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Separating neural activity associated with emotion and implied motion: An fMRI study.


Previous research provides evidence for an emo-motoric neural network allowing emotion to modulate activity in regions of the nervous system related to movement. However, recent research suggests that these results may be due to the movement depicted in the stimuli. The purpose of the current study was to differentiate the unique neural activity of emotion and implied motion using functional MRI. Thirteen healthy participants viewed 4 sets of images: (a) negative stimuli implying movement, (b) negative stimuli not implying movement, (c) neutral stimuli implying movement, and (d) neutral stimuli not implying movement. A main effect for implied motion was found, primarily in regions associated with multimodal integration (bilateral insula and cingulate), and visual areas that process motion (bilateral middle temporal gyrus). A main effect for emotion was found primarily in occipital and parietal regions, indicating that emotion enhances visual perception. Surprisingly, emotion also activated the left precentral gyrus, a motor region. These results demonstrate that emotion elicits activity above and beyond that evoked by the perception of implied movement, but that the neural representations of these characteristics overlap. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Change the things you can: Emotion regulation is more beneficial for people from lower than from higher socioeconomic status.


Emotion regulation is central to psychological health, and several emotion-regulation strategies have been identified as beneficial. However, new theorizing suggests the benefits of emotion regulation should depend on its context. One important contextual moderator might be socioeconomic status (SES), because SES powerfully shapes people’s ecology: lower SES affords less control over one’s environment and thus, the ability to self-regulate should be particularly important. Accordingly, effectively regulating one’s emotions (e.g., using cognitive reappraisal) could be more beneficial in lower (vs. higher) SES contexts. Three studies (N = 429) tested whether SES moderates the link between cognitive reappraisal ability (CRA; measured with surveys and in the laboratory) and depression. Each study and a meta-analysis of the 3 studies revealed that CRA was associated with less depression for lower SES but not higher SES individuals. Thus, CRA may be uniquely beneficial in lower SES contexts. More broadly, the effects of emotion regulation depend upon the ecology within which it is used. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Now you have my attention: Empathic accuracy pathways in couples and the role of conflict.


Recent research on empathy finds evidence for 2 different pathways that enable individuals to accurately infer other persons’ inner mental states: an automatic, indirect pathway that operates by having a mental state similar to the target’s and (correctly) assuming that this state is similar to the target’s, and a more controlled direct pathway that involves assessing the target’s mental state with no regard for one’s own. We present 3 daily diary studies (N = 53, 38 and 80 couples) examining the contribution of these pathways to empathic accuracy in daily assessments of romantic partners’ negative moods, and examine the effects of gender and relational conflict on these pathways. Our studies revealed that both pathways consistently contributed to accuracy. Additionally, partners demonstrated greater indirect accuracy on conflict (vs. nonconflict) days, and indirect accuracy was somewhat higher for women than for men on conflict days (with the opposite pattern on nonconflict days). More importantly, we found evidence for a novel third pathway, in which the perception of conflict itself led to (correct) higher estimation of negative affect and thus, to higher accuracy. This pathway figured more consistently for men than for women. In our discussion, we link the pathways obtained in these studies to the extant social neuroscientific literature on empathy systems, arguing that the indirect pathway involves the effects of experience sharing, while the direct and conflict-based pathways involve the mental state attributions (Zaki & Ochsner, 2011). These findings demonstrate the importance of examining various empathic pathways for the understanding of empathic processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Context shapes social judgments of positive emotion suppression and expression.


It is generally considered socially undesirable to suppress the expression of positive emotion. However, previous research has not considered the role that social context plays in governing appropriate emotion regulation. We investigated a context in which it may be more appropriate to suppress than express positive emotion, hypothesizing that positive emotion expressions would be considered inappropriate when the valence of the expressed emotion (i.e., positive) did not match the valence of the context (i.e., negative). Six experiments (N = 1,621) supported this hypothesis: when there was a positive emotion-context mismatch, participants rated targets who suppressed positive emotion as more appropriate, and evaluated them more positively than targets who expressed positive emotion. This effect occurred even when participants were explicitly made aware that suppressing targets were experiencing mismatched emotion for the context (e.g., feeling positive in a negative context), suggesting that appropriate emotional expression is key to these effects. These studies are among the first to provide empirical evidence that social costs to suppression are not inevitable, but instead are dependent on context. Expressive suppression can be a socially useful emotion regulation strategy in situations that call for it. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)