Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) represents a transdiagnostic risk factor for affective disorders, and stress is theorized to exacerbate this vulnerability. One mechanism by which stress may influence individual differences in psychiatric symptoms is through altered decision-making, and loss aversion in particular. The present study uses multiple methods to investigate the relationships between RNT, stress, and decision-making. We measured RNT in young adults (N = 90) recently exposed to a natural stressor, Hurricane Irma, and tested the influence of RNT on changes in affect, cortisol, and decision-making during a laboratory stress induction two months later. Post-hurricane RNT predicted greater increases in loss averse decision-making (β = 0.30 [0.14, 0.47], p < .001; rp2 = 0.079) and negative affect (β = 0.59 [0.37, 0.81], p < .001; rp2 = 0.319) during the early-phase response to the laboratory stressor, as well as poorer cortisol recovery (β = 0.32, [0.10, 0.54], p = .005; rp2 = 0.095) in the late-phase stress response. Results highlight the role of loss aversion and stress in understanding RNT as an affective vulnerability factor.
Repetitive negative thinking following exposure to a natural stressor prospectively predicts altered stress responding and decision-making in the laboratory
Stamatis CA, Puccetti NA, Charpentier CJ, Heller AS, Timpano KR