Writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events is known to result in improvements in physical and psychological health. What are the mechanisms that underlie these health benefits? In the present study, undergraduates (n=55) were asked to write about (a) the same traumatic experience, (b) different traumatic experiences, or (c) non-traumatic everyday events, during 3 written disclosure sessions. Results indicated that participants who wrote about the same traumatic experience reported significant reductions in respiratory and neurological symptoms at follow-up assessments compared with the other participants. Moreover, cognitive restructuring contributed to the alleviation of depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms only when participants wrote about the same traumatic experience. Cognitive restructuring did not have a significant beneficial effect on physical symptoms. These findings suggest that habituation underlies the beneficial effects of expressive writing on physical health, and that habituation is necessary for cognitive restructuring to be effective on psychological health.
A wealth of evidence demonstrates an attentional bias in favor of negative stimuli in dysphoria. However, there are two remaining controversies: (1) disagreement about attentional bias to positive stimuli, and (2) ambiguity regarding how to distinguish orientation from disengagement of attention. In order to resolve these problems, the modified gap-overlap task was used in the present study. This task examines three within-subject variables related to a stimulus presented in the center: presentation duration (500 ms, 1500 ms), disappearance (gap, overlap), and affective valence (sad, neutral, and happy words). Participants were required to response to a target stimulus that appeared to the left or right of a central stimulus. Reaction times (RTs) to the target stimulus reflect attentional disengagement from affective stimuli. Participants in the study were 41 students. RT analysis indicated that the nondysphoric individuals showed delayed endogenous attentional disengagement from happy words. Conversely, attention to happy words in the dysphoric individuals was attenuated in the 1500 ms conditions. There was no obvious attentional bias to sad words in the dyspshoric individuals. These findings suggest that the attentional bias to negative stimuli in dysphoric individuals might be limited to attentional orientation.
Many situations that give rise to embarrassment include some negative actions of the person who feels embarrassed. However, in some cases, there are embarrassing situations that do not include any negative actions of the person. For example, a man said “See you!”, and 5 minutes later had to say “Hello!”. This study aimed to clarify the mediating mechanism of embarrassment in the non-negative embarrassing situations. Data from 474 undergraduate students showed that the experiences of embarrassment in non-negative situations are mainly “basic embarrassment” (ex. hajirai in Japanese) and “awkwardness” (ex. batsu ga warui in Japanese). Moreover, structural equation modeling showed that, in general, the “disruption of interaction” strongly affected the experiences of embarrassment in nonnegative embarrassing situations. These results suggest that the mediating mechanisms of embarrassment depend on the types of situations.
Effects of winning versus losing on the resulting gambling behavior and the relationships with affects were experimentally investigated in healthy undergraduates. Participants (N=20) performed the Game of Dice Task that consisted of 18 gambling trials. Participants played the game twice (Sessions 1 and 2), and their positive and negative affects were measured before Session 1, between Sessions 1 and 2, and after Session 2. Result indicated that participants shifted their gambling choice to be more reckless, after they had experienced wins than losses. In addition, positive affect between Sessions 1 and 2 was positively correlated with reckless gambling in both Session 1 and 2. It is suggested that the effects of winning versus losing and affect are both important for understanding the basic mechanisms of gambling behavior.