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Journal of Abnormal Psychology - Vol 126, Iss 8

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Journal of Abnormal Psychology The Journal of Abnormal Psychology publishes articles on basic research and theory in the broad field of abnormal behavior, its determinants, and its correlates. The following general topics fall within its area of major focus: (a) psychopathology—its etiology, development, symptomatology, and course; (b) normal processes in abnormal individuals; (c) pathological or atypical features of the behavior of normal persons; (d) experimental studies, with human or animal subjects, relating to disordered emotional behavior or pathology; (e) sociocultural effects on pathological processes, including the influence of gender and ethnicity; and (f) tests of hypotheses from psychological theories that relate to abnormal behavior.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • HPA axis multilocus genetic profile score moderates the impact of interpersonal stress on prospective increases in depressive symptoms for offspring of depressed mothers.
    Although offspring of depressed mothers are at an increased risk for depression themselves, not all of these children develop depression, highlighting the need to identify specific environmental and genetic moderators of risk. The goal of this study was to examine the aggregate influence of genetic polymorphisms associated with the regulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis as a potential moderator of the relation between environmental stress and prospective changes in depressive symptoms for offspring of depressed mothers. Participants were 238 mother–offspring dyads recruited from the community based on the mother’s lifetime history of major depression during the youth’s lifetime (present vs. absent). Mothers and youth completed assessments every 6 months for 2 years (5 total). Results indicated that offspring of depressed mothers showing the greatest increases in depressive symptoms during the follow up were those who had higher HPA multilocus genetic profile scores and who experienced the highest levels of interpersonal stress. These relations were significant for interpersonal stress and were not observed for noninterpersonal stress. These findings suggest that HPA multilocus genetic profile scores may be important genetic markers of stress reactivity and depression risk for offspring of depressed mothers. They also highlight interpersonal stress as a potentially modifiable risk factor for these high-risk youth. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Self-criticism and dependency in female adolescents: Prediction of first onsets and disentangling the relationships between personality, stressful life events, and internalizing psychopathology.
    There is substantial evidence that personality traits, such as self-criticism and dependency, predict the development of depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as depressive episodes. However, it is unknown whether self-criticism and dependency predict the first onset of depressive and anxiety disorders, and unclear how to characterize dynamic mechanisms by which these traits, stressful life events, and psychopathology influence one another over time. In this study, 550 female adolescents were assessed at baseline, 528 and 513 of whom were assessed again at Waves 2 and 3, respectively, over the course of 18 months. Self-criticism and dependency were assessed with self-report inventories, depressive and anxiety disorders were assessed with diagnostic interviews, and stressful life events were assessed via semistructured interview. Logistic regression analyses showed that self-criticism and dependency significantly predicted the first onset of nearly all depressive and anxiety disorders (significant polychoric rs ranged from .15–.42). Subsequent path analyses focused on prediction of depression, and supported several conceptual models of personality-stress-psychopathology relationships. In particular, Personality × Stress interactions were evident for both dependency and self-criticism. These interactions took the form of dual vulnerability, such that stressful life events predicted an increased probability of a later depressive disorder only at low levels of each trait. Results suggest the traits of self-criticism and dependency are important to consider in understanding who is at risk for depressive and anxiety disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Exploring the idiographic dynamics of mood and anxiety via network analysis.
    Individual variation is increasingly recognized as important to psychopathology research. Concurrently, new methods of analysis based on network models are bringing new perspectives on mental (dys)function. This current work analyzed idiographic multivariate time series data using a novel network methodology that incorporates contemporaneous and lagged associations in mood and anxiety symptomatology. Data were taken from 40 individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), or comorbid GAD and MDD, who answered questions about 21 descriptors of mood and anxiety symptomatology 4 times a day over a period of approximately 30 days. The model provided an excellent fit to the intraindividual symptom dynamics of all 40 individuals. The most central symptoms in contemporaneous systems were those related to positive and negative mood. The temporal networks highlighted the importance of anger to symptomatology, while also finding that depressed mood and worry—the principal diagnostic criteria for GAD and MDD—were the least influential nodes across the sample. The method’s potential for analysis of individual symptom patterns is demonstrated by 3 exemplar participants. Idiographic network-based analysis may fundamentally alter the way psychopathology is assessed, classified, and treated, allowing researchers and clinicians to better understand individual symptom dynamics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The temporal interplay of self-esteem instability and affective instability in borderline personality disorder patients’ everyday lives.
    Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is defined by a pervasive pattern of instability. Although there is ample empirical evidence that unstable self-esteem is associated with a myriad of BPD-like symptoms, self-esteem instability and its temporal dynamics have received little empirical attention in patients with BPD. Even worse, the temporal interplay of affective instability and self-esteem instability has been neglected completely, although it has been hypothesized recently that the lack of specificity of affective instability in association with BPD might be explained by the highly intertwined temporal relationship between affective and self-esteem instability. To investigate self-esteem instability, its temporal interplay with affective instability, and its association with psychopathology, 60 patients with BPD and 60 healthy controls (HCs) completed electronic diaries for 4 consecutive days during their everyday lives. Participants reported their current self-esteem, valence, and tense arousal levels 12 times a day in approximately one-hr intervals. We used multiple state-of-the-art statistical techniques and graphical approaches to reveal patterns of instability, clarify group differences, and examine the temporal interplay of self-esteem instability and affective instability. As hypothesized, instability in both self-esteem and affect was clearly elevated in the patients with BPD. In addition, self-esteem instability and affective instability were highly correlated. Both types of instability were related to general psychopathology. Because self-esteem instability could not fully explain affective instability and vice versa and neither affective instability nor self-esteem instability was able to explain psychopathology completely, our findings suggest that these types of instability represent unique facets of BPD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Faces and facets: The variability of emotion recognition in psychopathy reflects its affective and antisocial features.
    Psychopathy consists of a constellation of affective-interpersonal features including lack of empathy, callousness, manipulativeness and interpersonal charm, impulsiveness and irresponsibility. Despite its theoretical and predictive value in forensic contexts, the relationships between the psychometric dimensions of psychopathy, including its antisocial features, and the construct’s neuropsychological characteristics remain uncertain. In this study, 685 personality-disordered prisoners with histories of serious violent or sexual offenses were assessed for psychopathy before completing a computerized and well-validated assessment of the ability to recognize emotional expressions in the face. Prisoners with more of the affective features of psychopathy, and prisoners with more of its antisocial manifestations, showed relatively poor recognition accuracy of fearfulness and disgust. These relationships were independent and modest but were still evident following correction for demographic features (e.g., ethnicity and socioeconomic status), mental illness (e.g., substance and alcohol misuse), personality disorders (other than antisocial personality disorder) and treatment status. By contrast, the associations between these dimensions of psychopathy and emotion recognition were diminished by controlling for cognitive ability. These findings demonstrate that variability in the ability of high-risk personality-disordered prisoners to recognize emotional expressions in the face—in particular, fear and disgust—reflects both the affective and antisocial aspects of psychopathy, and is moderated by cognitive ability. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Altered spatial profile of distraction in people with schizophrenia.
    Attention is critical for effective processing of incoming information and has long been identified as a potential area of dysfunction in people with schizophrenia (PSZ). In the realm of visual processing, both spatial attention and feature-based attention are involved in biasing selection toward task-relevant stimuli and avoiding distraction. Evidence from multiple paradigms has suggested that PSZ may hyperfocus and have a narrower “spotlight” of spatial attention. In contrast, feature-based attention seems largely preserved, with some suggestion of increased processing of stimuli sharing the target-defining feature. In the current study, we examined the spatial profile of feature-based distraction using a task in which participants searched for a particular color target and attempted to ignore distractors that varied in distance from the target location and either matched or mismatched the target color. PSZ differed from healthy controls in terms of interference from peripheral distractors that shared the target-color presented 200 ms before a central target. Specifically, PSZ showed an amplified gradient of spatial attention, with increased distraction to near distractors and less interference to far distractors. Moreover, consistent with hyperfocusing, individual differences in this spatial profile were correlated with positive symptoms, such that those with greater positive symptoms showed less distraction by target-colored distractors near the task-relevant location. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The social transmission of risk: Maternal stress physiology, synchronous parenting, and well-being mediate the effects of war exposure on child psychopathology.
    While chronic early stress increases child susceptibility to psychopathology, risk and resilience trajectories are shaped by maternal social influences whose role requires much further research in longitudinal studies. We examined the social transmission of risk by assessing paths leading from war-exposure to child symptoms as mediated by 3 sources of maternal social influence; stress physiology, synchronous parenting, and psychiatric disorder. Mothers and children living in a zone of continuous war were assessed in early childhood (1.5–5 years) and the current study revisited families in late (9–11years) childhood (N = 177; N = 101 war-exposed; N = 76 controls). At both time-points, maternal and child’s salivary cortisol (SC), social behavior, and externalizing and internalizing symptoms were assessed. In late childhood, hair cortisol concentrations (HCC) were also measured and mother and child underwent psychiatric diagnosis. The social transmission model was tested against 2 alternative models; 1 proposing direct impact of war on children without maternal mediation, the other predicting late-childhood symptoms from early childhood variables, not change trajectories. Path analysis controlling for early childhood variables supported our conceptual model. Whereas maternal psychopathology was directly linked with child symptoms, defining direct mediation, the impact of maternal stress hormones was indirect and passed through stress contagion mechanisms involving coupling between maternal and child’s HCC and SC. Similarly, maternal synchrony linked with child social engagement as the pathway to reduced symptomatology. Findings underscore the critical role of maternal stress physiology, attuned behavior, and well-being in shaping child psychopathology amid adversity and specify direct and indirect paths by which mothers stand between war and the child. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Interactive effects of ovarian steroid hormones on alcohol use and binge drinking across the menstrual cycle.
    Patterns and features of substance use and abuse vary across the menstrual cycle in humans. Yet, little work has systematically examined the within-person relationships between ovarian hormone changes and alcohol use across the menstrual cycle. Our study was the first to examine the roles of within-person levels of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) in relation to daily alcohol use and binge drinking in young women. Participants were 22 naturally cycling women, ages 18–22, recruited through a university subject pool who reported any alcohol use and who completed a screening visit assessing study eligibility, followed by 35 subsequent days of data collection. E2 and P4 were obtained via enzyme immunoassay of saliva samples collected by participants each morning, 30 min after waking. Presence and degree of daily substance use were obtained using an adaptation of the Timeline FollowBack Interview completed daily. Results indicated that elevated E2 in the context of decreased P4 levels were associated with higher risk of drinking and binge drinking. These effects were present only on weekend days. Results are suggestive of a dual risk model in which both ovulatory E2 increases and perimenstrual P4 decreases increase risk for drinking. Differential associations of steroids with drinking across the menstrual cycle may suggest the need for clinical assessment of substance use to take into account hormone dynamics and menstrual cycle phase. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Taxometric analyses of pedophilia utilizing self-report, behavioral, and sexual arousal indicators.
    Pedophilia refers to the recurrent, intense sexual interest in prepubescent children who, by definition, have not developed any secondary sex characteristics. Researchers have begun to investigate whether persons with pedophilia are qualitatively different from those without pedophilia (pedophilia is a taxon) or if people vary in their level of sexual interest toward children (pedophilia is dimensional). Two relatively small studies have previously attempted to address this question, but produced conflicting results. The present study built on these studies with a substantially larger sample of 2,227 men who committed sexual offenses and were assessed at a sexual behavior clinic. The present study also examined a broader range of measures more closely approximating the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder, including phallometric assessment of sexual arousal patterns. The results of 3 taxometric analyses did not find support for the assertion that pedophilia is a taxon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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