Login | Register

Predicting Interpersonal Outcomes From Information Processing Tasks Using Personally Relevant and Generic Stimuli: A Methodology Study


Predicting Interpersonal Outcomes From Information Processing Tasks Using Personally Relevant and Generic Stimuli: A Methodology Study

Serravalle, Lisa, Tsekova, Virginia and Ellenbogen, Mark A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8928-5492 (2020) Predicting Interpersonal Outcomes From Information Processing Tasks Using Personally Relevant and Generic Stimuli: A Methodology Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 11 (543596.). ISSN 1664-1078

[thumbnail of Serravalle-2020-Predicting Interpersonal Outco.pdf]
Text (application/pdf)
Serravalle-2020-Predicting Interpersonal Outco.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.543596


Despite evidence of differential processing of personally relevant stimuli (PR), most studies investigating attentional biases in processing emotional content use generic stimuli. We sought to examine differences in the processing of PR, relative to generic, stimuli across information processing tasks and to validate their use in predicting concurrent interpersonal functioning. Fifty participants (25 female) viewed generic and PR (i.e., their intimate partner’s face) emotional stimuli during tasks assessing selective attention (using a modified version of the Spatial Cueing Task) and inhibition (using the Negative Affective Priming task) of emotional content. Ratings of relationship quality were also collected. Evidence of increased selective attention during controlled and greater avoidance during automatic stages of processing emerged when viewing PR, relative to generic, emotional faces. We also found greater inhibition of PR sad faces. Finally, male, but not female, participants who displayed greater difficulty disengaging from the sad face of their partner reported more conflict in their relationships. Taken together, findings from information processing studies using generic emotional stimuli may not be representative of how we process PR stimuli in naturalistic settings.

Divisions:Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Research in Human Development
Item Type:Article
Authors:Serravalle, Lisa and Tsekova, Virginia and Ellenbogen, Mark A.
Journal or Publication:Frontiers in Psychology
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.3389/fpsyg.2020.543596
Keywords:information processing, personally relevant stimuli, interpersonal outcomes, emotion, attentional biases
ID Code:987491
Deposited On:05 Oct 2020 17:14
Last Modified:05 Oct 2020 17:14


Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc.
Allen, J. G., & Haccoun, D. M. (1976). Sex differences in emotionality: A multidimensional approach. Human Relations, 29, 711-722. doi:10.1177/001872677602900801
Bayer, M., Ruthmann, K., & Schacht, A. (2017). The impact of personal relevance on emotion processing: evidence from event-related potentials and pupillary responses. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12, 1470–1479. doi:10.1093/scan/nsx075
Bar-Haim, Y., Lamy, D., Pergamin, L., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2007). Threat-related attentional bias in anxious and nonanxious individuals: A meta analytic study. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 1–24. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.1
Bartels, A., & Zeki, S. (2000). The neural basis of romantic love. NeuroReport, 11, 3829–3834. doi:10.1097/00001756-200011270-00046
Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck depression inventory-II. San Antonio, 78, 490-498.
Ben-Naim, S., Hirschberger, G., Ein-Dor, T., & Mikulincer, M. (2013). An experimental study of emotion regulation during relationship conflict interactions: The moderating role of attachment orientations. Emotion, 13, 506. doi:10.1037/a0031473
Campbell, L., Simpson, J. A., Boldry, J., & Kashy, D. A. (2005). Perceptions of Conflict and Support in Romantic Relationships: The Role of Attachment Anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 510–531. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.88.3.510
Cisler, J. M., & Koster, E. H. W. (2010). Mechanisms of attentional biases towards threat in anxiety disorders: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 203–216. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.11.003
Claypool, H. M., Hugenberg, K., Housley, M. K., & Mackie, D. M. (2007). Familiar eyes are smiling: on the role of familiarity in the perception of facial affect. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 856–866. doi:10.1002/ejsp.422
Cramer, D. (2004). Satisfaction with a romantic relationship, depression, support and conflict. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 77, 449–461. doi:10.1348/1476083042555389
Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & Hager, J. (2002). Emotional facial action coding system. Manual and investigator’s guide CD-ROM. Salt Lake City: A Human Face.
Elfgren, C., van Westen, D., Passant, U., Larsson, E. M., Mannfolk, P., & Fransson, P. (2006). fMRI activity in the medial temporal lobe during famous face processing. Neuroimage, 30, 609-616. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.060
Ellenbogen, M. A., Linnen, A. M., Cardoso, C., & Joober, R. (2013). Intranasal oxytocin
impedes the ability to ignore task-irrelevant facial expressions of sadness in students with depressive symptoms. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38, 387-398. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.06.016
Ellenbogen, M.A., & Schwartzman A.E. (2009). Selective attention and avoidance on a pictorial cueing task during stress in clinically anxious and depressed participants. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47, 128-138. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2008.10.021
Ellenbogen, M.A., Schwartzman, A.E., Stewart, J., & Walker, C.-D. (2002). Stress and selective attention: The interplay of mood, cortisol levels, and emotional information processing. Psychophysiology, 39, 723-732. doi:10.1017/S0048577202010739
Ellenbogen, M.A., Schwartzman, A.E., Stewart, J., & Walker, C.-D. (2006). Automatic and effortful emotional information processing regulates different aspects of the stress response. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 31, 373-387. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.09.001
Ellsworth, P. C., & Smith, C. A. (1988). From appraisal to emotion: Differences among unpleasant feelings. Motivation and emotion, 12, 271-302.
Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A. G., & Buchner, A. (2007, May). G*Power 3: a flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39(2), 175-191. doi:10.3758/bf03193146
First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L. Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (2002). Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders, Research Version, Non-Patient Edition (SCID-I/NP). New York, Biometrics Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Fossati, P. (2012). Neural correlates of emotion processing: From emotional to social brain.
European Neuropsychopharmacology, 22, S487–S491.
Fox, E., Russo, R., & Dutton, K. (2002). Attentional bias for threat: Evidence for delayed disengagement from emotional faces. Cognition & Emotion, 16, 355–379. doi:10.1080/02699930143000527
Fridrici, C., Leichsenring-Driessen, C., Driessen, M., Wingenfeld, K., Kremer, G., & Beblo, T. (2013). The individualized alcohol Stroop task: No attentional bias toward personalized stimuli in alcohol-dependents. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27, 62–70. doi:10.1037/a0029139
Gere, J., & Schimmack, U. (2011). When Romantic Partners’ Goals Conflict: Effects on Relationship Quality and Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 37–49. doi:10.1007/s10902-011-9314-2
Gobbini, M. I., & Haxby, J. V. (2007). Neural systems for recognition of familiar faces. Neuropsychologia, 45, 32–41. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.04.015
Goeleven, E., De Raedt, R., Baert, S., & Koster, E. H. (2006). Deficient inhibition of emotional information in depression. Journal of affective disorders, 93, 149-157. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2006.03.007
Gotlib, I. H., Krasnoperova, E., Yue, D. N., & Joormann, J. (2004). Attentional Biases for Negative Interpersonal Stimuli in Clinical Depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 127–135. doi:10.1037/0021-843x.113.1.121
Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 85, 348. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.2.348
Hallion, L. S. and A. M. Ruscio (2011). A Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Cognitive Bias Modification on Anxiety and Depression. Psychological Bulletin, 137, 940-958. doi:10.1037/a0024355
Hasher L, Zacks RT, May CP (1999) Inhibitory control, circadian arousal, and age. In: Gopher D, Koriat A, editors. Attention and performance XVII, Cognitive regulation of performance: Interaction of theory and application (pp. 653 – 675). Cambridge: MIT Press.
Heeren, A., et al. (2015). Attention bias modification for social anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 40, 76-90. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.06.001
Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., & Jones, B. Q. (2008). Is there something unique about marriage? The relative impact of marital status, relationship quality, and network social support on ambulatory blood pressure and mental health. Annals of behavioral medicine, 35, 239-244. doi:10.1007/s12160-008-9018-y
Humphreys, K. L., Kircanski, K., Colich, N. L., & Gotlib, I. H. (2016). Attentional avoidance of fearful facial expressions following early life stress is associated with impaired social functioning. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 1174-1182. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12607
Iacono, V., Ellenbogen, M. A., Wilson, A. L., Desormeau, P., & Nijjar, R. (2015). Inhibition of personally-relevant angry faces moderates the effect of empathy on interpersonal functioning. PloS one, 10, e0112990. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112990
Ibáñez, A., Hurtado, E., Lobos, A., Escobar, J., Trujillo, N., Baez, S., Huepe, D., Manes, F., & Decety, J. (2011). Subliminal presentation of other faces (but not own face) primes behavioral and evoked cortical processing of empathy for pain. Brain Research, 1398, 72-85. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2011.05.014
Ji, J. L., Grafton, B., & MacLeod, C. (2017). Referential focus moderates depression-linked attentional avoidance of positive information. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 93, 47-54. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2017.03.004
Joormann, J. (2004). Attentional bias in dysphoria: The role of inhibitory processes. Cognition and emotion, 18, 125-147. doi:10.1080/02699930244000480
Joormann, J. (2010). Cognitive Inhibition and Emotion Regulation in Depression. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19, 161–166. doi:10.1177/0963721410370293
Joormann, J., & Gotlib, I. H. (2010). Emotion regulation in depression: relation to cognitive inhibition. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 281-298. doi:10.1080/02699930903407948
Keltner, D., & Gross J.J. (1999). Functional accounts of emotions. Cognition and Emotion 13: 467-480. doi: 10.1080/026999399379140
LaFrance, M. and M. Banaji (1992). Toward a reconsideration of the gender–emotion relationship. In M. S. Clark (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology, Vol. 14. Emotion and social behavior. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publicaions: 178-201.
Lang, P.J., Davis, M., & Öhman, A. (2000). Fear and anxiety: Animal models and human cognitive psychophysiology. Journal of Affective Disorders, 61, 137-159. doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(00)00343-8
Leibenluft, E., Gobbini, M., Harrison, T., & Haxby, J. V. (2004). Mothers neural activation in response to pictures of their children and other children. Biological Psychiatry, 56, 225 232. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.05.017
Lundqvist, D., Esteves, F., & Öhman, A. (2004). The face of wrath: The role of features and configurations in conveying social threat. Cognition and emotion, 18, 161-182. doi:10.1080/02699930244000453
Mackinnon, S. P., Sherry, S. B., Antony, M. M., Stewart, S. H., Sherry, D. L., & Hartling, N. (2012). Caught in a bad romance: Perfectionism, conflict, and depression in romantic relationships. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 215–225. doi:10.1037/a0027402
MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G., & Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of abnormal psychology, 111, 107. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.111.1.107
Marchand-Reilly, J. F. (2012). Attachment Anxiety, Conflict Behaviors, and Depressive Symptoms in Emerging Adults’ Romantic Relationships. Journal of Adult Development, 19, 170–176. doi:10.1007/s10804-012-9144-4
Mastorakos, T., & Scott, K. L. (2019). Attention biases and social-emotional development in preschool-aged children who have been exposed to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89, 78–86. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.001
Mathews, A., & MacLeod, C. (2005). Cognitive Vulnerability to Emotional Disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 167–195. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.143916
Mogg, K. & Bradley, B. (1998). A cognitive-motivational analysis of anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36, 809-848. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(98)00063-1
Morris, J. S., Öhman, A., & Dolan, R. J. (1999). A subcortical pathway to the right amygdala mediating “unseen” fear. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96(4), 1680-1685. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.4.1680
Notarius, C. I., & Johnson, J. S. (1982). Emotional expression in husbands and wives. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 483-489. doi:10.2307/351556
Pierce, G. R., Sarason, I. G., & Sarason, B. R. (1991). General and relationship-based perceptions of social support: Are two constructs better than one?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 61, 1028. doi:10.1037/a0020836
Posner, M. I. (1978). Chronometric explorations of mind. Lawrence Erlbaum.
Posner, M. I. (1980). Orienting of attention. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 32, 3 25. doi:10.1080/00335558008248231
Russell, J. A., Bachorowski, J.-A., & Fernández-Dols, J.-M. (2003). Facial and Vocal Expressions of Emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 329–349. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145102
Salehinejad, M. A., Nejati, V., & Nitsche, M. A. (2020). Neurocognitive correlates of self-esteem: From self-related attentional bias to involvement of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience Research. doi:10.1016/j.neures.2019.12.008
Stormark, K. M., Nordby, H., & Hugdahl, K. (1995). Attentional shifts to emotionally charged cues: Behavioural and ERP data. Cognition & Emotion, 9, 507–523. doi:10.1080/02699939508408978
Taylor, M. J., Arsalidou, M., Bayless, S. J., Morris, D., Evans, J. W., & Barbeau, E. J. (2009). Neural correlates of personally familiar faces: Parents, partner and own faces. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 2008–2020. doi:10.1002/hbm.20646
Taylor, V. A., Ellenbogen, M. A., Washburn, D., & Joober, R. (2011). The effects of glucocorticoids on the inhibition of emotional information: a dose–response study. Biological psychology, 86, 17-25. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.10.001
Tipper, S. P., & Cranston, M. (1985). Selective attention and priming: Inhibitory and facilitatory effects of ignored primes. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 37, 591- 611. doi:10.1080/14640748508400921
Tottenham, N., Tanaka, J. W., Leon, A. C., McCarry, T., Nurse, M., Hare, T. A., … Nelson, C. (2009). The NimStim set of facial expressions: Judgments from untrained research participants. Psychiatry Research, 168, 242–249. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.05.006
Velotti, P., Balzarotti, S., Tagliabue, S., English, T., Zavattini, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Emotional suppression in early marriage: Actor, partner, and similarity effects on marital quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33, 277-302. doi:10.1177/0265407515574466
Viskontas, I. V., Quiroga, R. Q., & Fried, I. (2009). Human medial temporal lobe neurons respond preferentially to personally relevant images. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 21329–21334. doi:10.1073/pnas.0902319106
Weibert, K., Harris, R. J., Mitchell, A., Byrne, H., Young, A. W., & Andrews, T. J. (2016). An image-invariant neural response to familiar faces in the human medial temporal lobe. Cortex, 84, 34–42. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2016.08.014
Wingenfeld, K., Mensebach, C., Driessen, M., Bullig, R., Hartje, W., & Beblo, T. (2006). Attention Bias towards Personally Relevant Stimuli: The Individual Emotional Stroop Task. Psychological Reports, 99, 781–793. doi:10.2466/pr0.99.3.781-793
Wingenfeld, K., Mensebach, C., Rullkoetter, N., Schlosser, N., Schaffrath, C., Woermann, F. G., … Beblo, T. (2009). Attentional Bias to Personally Relevant Words in Borderline Personality Disorder is Strongly Related to Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 23, 141–155. doi:10.1521/pedi.2009.23.2.141
Wong, S. F., Trespalacios, F., & Ellenbogen, M. A. (2020, Apr). Poor inhibition of personally-relevant facial expressions of sadness and anger predicts an elevated cortisol response following awakening six months later. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 150, 73-82. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2020.02.005
Young, S. G., & Claypool, H. M. (2010). Mere exposure has differential effects on attention allocation to threatening and neutral stimuli. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 424–427. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2009.10.015
Zanarini, M. C., & Frankenburg, F. R. (2001). Attainment and maintenance of reliability of axis I and II disorders over the course of a longitudinal study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 42, 369–374. doi:10.1053/comp.2001.24556
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
- Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
Back to top Back to top