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Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time. However, for people suffering from depression or anxiety negative thinking may turn into a self-propelling vicious circle that seems impossible to stop. Researchers from SWPS University will test whether a mobile app can help these patients to change their thought patterns and improve their wellbeing. The results of laboratory studies have been promising, but it is crucial to test whether similar effect can be obtained in everyday life of patients. The mobile application has the potential to significantly improve access to psychological interventions for people suffering from various mental disorders.

 

RESEARCH PROJECT

Dynamic Relation

 Between Repetitive Negative Thinking and Inhibition in Depression

Daily Process Approach

 

 

Research Unit UNI SWPS english
Grant AmountPLN 752 568
Funding SourceNCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: June 2017 – May 2019

Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time. However, for people suffering from depression or anxiety negative thinking may turn into a self-propelling vicious circle that seems impossible to stop. Researchers from SWPS University will test whether a mobile app can help these patients to change their thought patterns and improve wellbeing. The results of laboratory studies have been promising, but it is crucial to test whether similar effects can be obtained in daily life. The mobile application has the potential to significantly improve access to psychological interventions for people suffering from various mental disorders.

European CommissionThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.

Project Outline

Repetitive Negative Thinking, often called rumination, is a natural way of regulating human emotions. Sometimes, we all dwell on a particular problem, thinking repeatedly “Why does it always happen to me?”, “What have I done to deserve this?”. Usually, people have a whole pattern of emotional regulation strategies at their disposal and they choose the appropriate one, depending on the circumstances, their previous experience, or mood. If someone lacks flexibility in adjusting the emotional regulation strategies to the ongoing situation and by default has a tendency to ruminate, it might lead to impaired emotional regulation and consequently might increase the risk of mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. Research on rumination suggests that this kind of repetitive thinking not only increases the risk of depression, but it might also impair its efficient treatment and remission.

One of the main hypothesis is that excessive rumination is caused by the impairment of inhibition. Inhibition is an executive function. It enables people to stop their automatic reactions, habits, and routines. People use inhibition when they encounter something funny, but the circumstances are not appropriate for laughing out loud, for example during an official ceremony or on a somber occasion. Therefore the researchers will map the process of rumination and will test what is the role of inhibition in this model. First it is necessary to conduct basic research, which will explore the relation between inhibition, rumination and emotional regulation. It will help to develop an effective rumination therapy for patients who suffer from depression or who are at a high risk of developing this mental disorder.

We are excited to start the first series of studies, which will test whether a mobile app can help patients suffering from depression or anxiety to change their thought patterns and improve wellbeing. The results of laboratory studies have been promising, but it is crucial to test whether similar effects can be obtained in daily life. The mobile application has the potential to significantly improve access to psychological interventions for people suffering from various mental disorders.

Monika Kornacka, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Research Methods

The project includes two types of studies. In the first study, called Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA study), participants will be asked to use a smartphone application in their everyday life. The second study will be conducted in laboratory conditions.

Ecological Momentary Assessment

The mobile application developed in collaboration with Lodz University of Technology provides new possibilities for measuring psychological variables. Thanks to the application the researchers will be able to test the relation between rumination, inhibition and emotional regulation at any given moment. They will also be able to monitor how the relation between these three processes evolves in the course of the participant’s daily life. This evolution seems to be a very important variable as recent studies suggest that not only the frequency of rumination, but also the dynamic relation of rumination with other variables may impact the risk of depression. For example, the researchers will be able to examine what frequency of rumination predicts the lower emotional regulation. Additionally, the researchers will test whether it is possible to train inhibition by using a smartphone application.

Laboratory Study

The results of the initial experimental research on inhibition training look promising. It seems that the training can reduce the tendency for maladaptive use of rumination. However, the effect of inhibition training on rumination and emotional regulation has never been tested before in clinical population of depressed patients or in everyday lives of study participants and patients. Hence, the laboratory study will allow researchers to control additional variables, which is not possible in the more ecological study employing the smartphone application. In the laboratory study the researchers will examine what other factors may affect the relation between rumination, inhibition and emotional regulation. In the control group, the researchers will experimentally induce rumination or distraction and using an eye tracker they will measure how these distractions affect the efficacy of inhibition in participants. Researchers will also test how different types of rumination, different content of rumination, and depressive symptomatology affect the efficacy of inhibition.

Application of Results

The studies conducted in the course of this project will help to create a dynamic model of rumination, inhibition and depressive symptomatology in everyday life of patients and will allow to determinate what other factors might affect this relation. This research is a necessary step, required to improve therapies for patients, who tend to engage in excessive rumination.

Additionally, the researchers will test whether rumination-focused therapy can be supported by new technologies and whether inhibition training could be used in this type of therapy. Since rumination is one of the main risk factors in depression, which according to WHO affects 5% of the world’s population, the results of this research project will be of great importance.

 

Researchers

258 Monika Kornacka

 

Monika Kornacka, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
psychologist, therapist, her research interestes include rumination, cognitive-behavioral therapy and use of new technolgonogies in psychological interventions

258 Izabela Krejtz

Associate Professor

Izabela Krejtz

psychologist, expert in cognitive psychology, techeas methodology of eye tracking research

someone

Associate Professor

John B. Nezlek

social psychologist, SWPS University in Poznań; College of William & Mary, Virginia, USA.

258 Piotr Napieralski

Assistant Professor

Piotr Napieralski, P.Eng.

Faculty of Technical Physics, Information Technology, and Applied Mathematics, Institute of Information Technology at Lodz University of Technology 

258 Céline Douilliez

Professor

Céline Douilliez


Expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy, her research interests include transdiagnostic processes in psychopathology, Lille University of Science and Technology, France

 

 

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