skip to main content

Title: Reappraisal—but not Suppression—Tendencies Determine Negativity Bias After Laboratory and Real-World Stress Exposure

Higher reactivity to stress exposure is associated with an increased tendency to appraise ambiguous stimuli as negative. However, it remains unknown whether tendencies to use emotion regulation strategies—such as cognitive reappraisal, which involves altering the meaning or relevance of affective stimuli—can shape individual differences regarding how stress affects perceptions of ambiguity. Here, we examined whether increased reappraisal use is one factor that can determine whether stress exposure induces increased negativity bias. In Study 1, healthy participants (n = 43) rated the valence of emotionally ambiguous (surprised) faces before and after an acute stress or control manipulation and reported reappraisal habits. Increased negativity ratings were milder for stressed individuals that reported more habitual reappraisal use. In Study 2 (n = 97), we extended this investigation to real-world perceived stress before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that reappraisal tendency moderates the relationship between perceived stress and increased negativity bias. Collectively, these findings suggest that the propensity to reappraise determines negativity bias when evaluating ambiguity under stress.

; ; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Affective Science
Springer Science + Business Media
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The GuLF Long-term Follow-up Study (GuLF STUDY) is investigating potential adverse health effects of workers involved in the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill response and cleanup (OSRC). Over 93% of the 160 000 personal air measurements taken on OSRC workers were below the limit of detection (LOD), as reported by the analytic labs. At this high level of censoring, our ability to develop exposure estimates was limited. The primary objective here was to reduce the number of measurements below the labs’ reported LODs to reflect the analytic methods’ true LODs, thereby facilitating the use of a relatively unbiased and precise Bayesian method to develop exposure estimates for study exposure groups (EGs). The estimates informed a job-exposure matrix to characterize exposure of study participants. A second objective was to develop descriptive statistics for relevant EGs that did not meet the Bayesian criteria of sample size ≥5 and censoring ≤80% to achieve the aforementioned level of bias and precision. One of the analytic labs recalculated the measurements using the analytic method’s LOD; the second lab provided raw analytical data, allowing us to recalculate the data values that fell between the originally reported LOD and the analytical method’s LOD. We developed rulesmore »for developing Bayesian estimates for EGs with >80% censoring. The remaining EGs were 100% censored. An order-based statistical method (OBSM) was developed to estimate exposures that considered the number of measurements, geometric standard deviation, and average LOD of the censored samples for N ≥ 20. For N < 20, substitution of ½ of the LOD was assigned. Recalculation of the measurements lowered overall censoring from 93.2 to 60.5% and of the THC measurements, from 83.1 to 11.2%. A total of 71% of the EGs met the ≤15% relative bias and <65% imprecision goal. Another 15% had censoring >80% but enough non-censored measurements to apply Bayesian methods. We used the OBSM for 3% of the estimates and the simple substitution method for 11%. The methods presented here substantially reduced the degree of censoring in the dataset and increased the number of EGs meeting our Bayesian method’s desired performance goal. The OBSM allowed for a systematic and consistent approach impacting only the lowest of the exposure estimates. This approach should be considered when dealing with highly censored datasets.

    « less
  2. Abstract Background Encounters with rats in urban areas increase risk of human exposure to rat-associated zoonotic pathogens and act as a stressor associated with psychological distress. The frequency and nature of human-rat encounters may be altered by social distancing policies to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, restaurant closures may reduce food availability for rats and promote rat activity in nearby residential areas, thus increasing public health risks during a period of public health crisis. In this study, we aimed to identify factors associated with increased perceived exposure to rats during a stay-at-home order, describe residents’ encounters with rats relevant to their health and well-being, and identify factors associated with increased use of rodent control. Methods Urban residents in Chicago, a large city with growing concerns about rats and health disparities, completed an online questionnaire including fixed response and open-ended questions during the spring 2020 stay-at-home order. Analyses included ordinal multivariate regression, spatial analysis, and thematic analysis for open-ended responses. Results Overall, 21% of respondents ( n  = 835) reported an increase in rat sightings around their homes during the stay-at-home order and increased rat sightings was positively associated with proximity to restaurants, low-rise apartment buildings, and rat feces in themore »home ( p  ≤ 0.01). Many respondents described feeling unsafe using their patio or yard, and afraid of rats entering their home or spreading disease. Greater engagement with rodent control was associated with property ownership, information about rat control, and areas with lower incomes ( p  ≤ 0.01). Conclusions More frequent rat encounters may be an unanticipated public health concern during periods of social distancing, especially in restaurant-dense areas or in low-rise apartment buildings. Rat presence may also limit residents’ ability to enjoy nearby outdoor spaces, which otherwise might buffer stress experienced during a stay-at-home order. Proactive rat control may be needed to mitigate rat-associated health risks during future stay-at-home orders.« less
  3. Emotion regulation can be characterized by different activities that attempt to alter an emotional response, whether behavioral, physiological or neurological. The two most widely adopted strategies, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression are explored in this study, specifically in the context of disgust. Study participants (N = 21) experienced disgust via video exposure, and were instructed to either regulate their emotions or express them freely. If regulating, they were required to either cognitively reappraise or suppress their emotional experiences while viewing the videos. Video recordings of the participants' faces were taken during the experiment and electrocardiogram (ECG), electromyography (EMG), and galvanic skin response (GSR) readings were also collected for further analysis. We compared the participants behavioral (facial musculature movements) and physiological (GSR and heart rate) responses as they aimed to alter their emotional responses and computationally determined that when responding to disgust stimuli, the signals recorded during suppression and free expression were very similar, whereas those recorded during cognitive reappraisal were significantly different. Thus, in the context of this study, from a signal analysis perspective, we conclude that emotion regulation via cognitive reappraisal significantly alters participants' physiological responses to disgust, unlike regulation via suppression.
  4. Ambiguous stimuli are useful for assessing emotional bias. For example, surprised faces could convey a positive or negative meaning, and the degree to which an individual interprets these expressions as positive or negative represents their “valence bias.” Currently, the most well-validated ambiguous stimuli for assessing valence bias include nonverbal signals (faces and scenes), overlooking an inherent ambiguity in verbal signals. This study identified 32 words with dual-valence ambiguity (i.e., relatively high intersubject variability in valence ratings and relatively slow response times) and length-matched clearly valenced words (16 positive, 16 negative). Preregistered analyses demonstrated that the words-based valence bias correlated with the bias for faces, r s (213) = .27, p < .001, and scenes, r s (204) = .46, p < .001. That is, the same people who interpret ambiguous faces/scenes as positive also interpret ambiguous words as positive. These findings provide a novel tool for measuring valence bias and greater generalizability, resulting in a more robust measure of this bias.
  5. Do negative feelings in general trigger addictive behavior, or do specific emotions play a stronger role? Testing these alternative accounts of emotion and decision making, we drew on the Appraisal Tendency Framework to predict that sadness, specifically, rather than negative mood, generally, would 1) increase craving, impatience, and actual addictive substance use and 2) do so through mechanisms selectively heightened by sadness. Using a nationally representative, longitudinal survey, study 1 (n= 10,685) revealed that sadness, but not other negative emotions (i.e., fear, anger, shame), reliably predicted current smoking as well as relapsing 20 years later. Study 2 (n= 425) used an experimental design, and found further support for emotion specificity: Sadness, but not disgust, increased self-reported craving relative to a neutral state. Studies 3 and 4 (n= 918) introduced choice behavior as outcome variables, revealing that sadness causally increased impatience for cigarette puffs. Moreover, study 4 revealed that the effect of sadness on impatience was more fully explained by concomitant appraisals of self-focus, which are specific to sadness, than by concomitant appraisals of negative valence, which are general to all negative emotions. Importantly, study 4 also examined the topography of actual smoking behavior, finding that experimentally induced sadness (as comparedmore »to neutral emotion) causally increased the volume and duration of cigarette puffs inhaled. Together, the present studies provide support for a more nuanced model regarding the effects of emotion on tobacco use, in particular, as well as on addictive behavior, in general.

    « less