The current study will evaluate subchance perception of positive information's (SPPI) ability to predict psychological distress, functioning, and other tasks associated with RDoC positive, negative, and cognitive systems, over time. The current application is significant and innovative, and brings with it great promise of creating a gateway for understanding an underlying cognitive and affective dimension of psychopathology. Depression is the leading cause of disability for people aged 15 to 44, with an annual public health cost estimated at between $44 billion and $53 billion. Anxiety disorders yield similarly dramatic rates, with annual costs of anxiety estimated at $42 billion. Because of the poor validity of diagnostic categories, there is a great need for research on dimensional prognostic indicators that help to better guide treatment interventions. Implicit prognostic indicators associated with impaired cognitive, positive, and negative valence systems, are candidates to provide stronger predictors of impairment than self-report measures of psychopathology alone. SPPI represents an advance as an implicit prognostic indicator of psychological distress, as it demonstrates that distressed individuals do not merely lack valuation of positive information, but that they devalue positive information. SPPI has yet to be compared to other cognitive measures, however, and while it has been found to be associated with symptoms of psychopathology, it has not been investigated in relation to occupational and relationship functioning over time. Significance. SPPI can lead to better assessments and interventions for distressed individuals. If this prognostic indicator could increase successful outcomes for even 1% of the individuals who do not respond to therapy, it would mean a savings of approximately $800 million annually. Innovation. SPPI has solved a longstanding issue in the literature. SPPI methods allow for the assessment of unconscious avoidance of positive information.
Specific Aims. The aims of the proposed project are to examine SPPI in relation to other cognitive tasks and key symptoms of distress and impairment over time. A longitudinal study will examine SPPI, cognitive tasks, and key symptoms of distress and impairment over time. Patients will be assessed once weekly for 6 weeks and at follow-up 6 weeks later. Multilevel linear modeling will be used to analyze the data. SPPI will predict symptoms of distress and impairment over time, and positive components of cognitive tasks will predict SPPI over time. This project will lead to SPPI being used as part of treatments aimed at increasing individuals'self-awareness and readiness to engage with potentially threatening positive information. SPPI can help clinicians connect with the large number of patients who are currently not responding to treatments that do not account for their unique and complicated fears of positivity.

Public Health Relevance

This research is relevant to public health because it investigates how well a new method and set of findings are related to positive, negative, and cognitive systems associated with psychopathology. This research can produce better assessments and interventions to treat severe psychopathology. This would have tremendously positive public health implications.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section (APDA)
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Muehrer, Peter R
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Mississippi State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Mississippi State
United States
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