54th Annual International Convention ABPSi 2023

Cameryn Cooley & Kassidie Harmon presented posters at the 54th Annual International Convention ABPSi!


Race and Attitudes toward Treatment Seeking
Cameryn Cooley & Jennifer Cheavens

Abstract: Untreated mental illness is a problem that differently impacts Black people. We tested whether the relationship between attitudes and treatment seeking behavior differ by race in a sample that screened high on symptoms of depression. We provided participants with options for treatment, attempting to control for some known treatment barriers, and assessed whether participants sought treatment in the following 10 weeks. We found that more positive attitudes predicted treatment seeking and Black participants were less likely to seek treatment.


Emotion regulation and psychopathology in Black Americans: The role of racism-related stress.
Kassidie S. Harmon & Jennifer S. Cheavens

Abstract: Emotion regulation strategies are used to change the direction, duration, or intensity of an affective experience (Mauss et al., 2007). Putatively maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, like thought suppression and experiential avoidance, are associated with several forms of psychopathology, including generalized anxiety disorder (Roemer et al., 2005), obsessive-compulsive disorder (Abramowitz et al., 2009), and depression (Tull et al., 2004). Much of the emotion regulation literature has only investigated the use and effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies among primarily White samples. Moreover, the few studies that include Black participants tend to be older and qualitative.  In a sample of Black and White adults, we assessed participants’ use of two putatively maladaptive emotion regulation strategies: thought suppression (White Bear Suppression Inventory; Wegner & Zanakos, 1994) and experiential avoidance (Brief Experiential Avoidance Questionnaire; Gámez et al., 2014). Black participants also completed a measure of racism-related stress (Index of Race Related Stress, Utsey; 1996), while all participants completed measures of general perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983), depression (PHQ-9; Kroenke & Spitzer, 2002), anxiety, (GAD-7; Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams, & Löwe, 2006), and borderline personality disorder features (PAI-BOR; Morey, 1991). Based on regression analyses, we found significant interactions between maladaptive emotion regulation strategy use and stressors when predicting psychopathology symptoms. More specifically, for participants who endorsed high general perceived stress, the relationship between avoidance use and psychopathology symptoms was much stronger than for participants who endorsed low general perceived stress (t(383) = 3.37, B = .001, p < .001). Likewise, the relationship between suppression use and psychopathology features was stronger for participants who endorsed more general perceived stress (t(383) = 2.50, B = .001, p = .013). This same pattern of results emerged when assessing racism-related stress in Black participants. The relationship between avoidance use and psychopathology features was stronger for people who reported higher levels of racism-related stress compared to people who reported lower racism-related stress (t(153) = 2.84, B = .001, p = .005). Similarly, the relationship between suppression use and psychopathology features was stronger among Black participants who reported higher racism-related stress than lower racism-related stress (t(153) = 2.10, B = .0004, = .038). Correlation analyses indicate that general perceived stress and racism related stress are similar, but distinct constructs (= .16, p = .042). These findings suggest that for Black participants, both general and racism-related stress influence the negative effects associated with maladaptive emotion regulation strategies.  These findings are important for Black Americans who experience cumulative effects of both general perceived stress and race-related stress. These results indicate that analyzing additional contextual factors (e.g., environments with varying levels of race-related stress risk) may be necessary to fully understand how racism-related and general stress relate to emotion regulation for Black Americans.

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