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Attachment-specific speech patterns induce dysphoric mood changes in the listener as a function of individual differences in attachment characteristics and psychopathology

Leutritz, AL; Colic, L; Borchardt, V; Cheng, X; Zhang, B; Lison, S; Frommer, J; ... Walter, M; + view all (2021) Attachment-specific speech patterns induce dysphoric mood changes in the listener as a function of individual differences in attachment characteristics and psychopathology. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice 10.1111/papt.12258. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives Early childhood experiences influence cognitive-emotional development, with insecure attachment predisposing to potential psychopathologies. We investigated whether narratives containing attachment-specific speech patterns shape listeners’ emotional responses and social intentions. Design First, 149 healthy participants listened to three narratives characteristic for secure, insecure-preoccupied, and insecure-dismissing attachment. Following each narrative, the wellbeing and interpersonal reactivity as a particular aspect of emotional reactivity of the listener were assessed. Likewise, psychopathological aspects of personality were evaluated. A follow-up study compared 10 psychosomatic patients with a current depressive episode and/or personality disorder with distinct depressive symptoms and 10 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Methods Effects of narratives on listeners’ mental state were tested with repeated-measures AN(C)OVA. Mediating effects in the listener (attachment characteristics in the context of personality traits) were explored. Narrative effects were compared between patients and controls. Results Listening to insecure attachment narratives reduced wellbeing in controls. Nevertheless, tendency for social interaction was highest following the insecure-preoccupied narrative. Importantly, listeners’ individual attachment characteristics mediated the relationship between wellbeing/interpersonal reactivity following the insecure-preoccupied narrative and levels of psychopathology. Furthermore, compared with healthy participants, patients showed higher emotional reactivity following exposure to the insecure-preoccupied narrative, represented by lower wellbeing and lower estimation of friendliness towards the narrator. Conclusions Exposure to attachment-specific speech patterns can result in dysphoric mood changes. Specifically, the insecure-preoccupied narrative influenced the listeners’ emotional state, which was further mediated by the individual attachment patterns and psychopathological personality characteristics. This deepens the understanding of interpersonal processes, especially in psychotherapeutic settings.

Type: Article
Title: Attachment-specific speech patterns induce dysphoric mood changes in the listener as a function of individual differences in attachment characteristics and psychopathology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/papt.12258
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12258
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: adult attachment, human social interaction, psychopathology, psychodynamic, attachment-specific speech patterns
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083980
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