Ego depletion as a measure of emotion processing deficits among people with medically unexplained symptoms

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University of Alabama Libraries

Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are problematic because they are both common and costly. Furthermore, patients with these symptoms suffer from interpersonal problems, functional impairments and psychological problems. One hypothesis explaining the underlying mechanisms of MUS is that these patients find it difficult to process or regulate emotions effectively. Even though previous studies found a link between emotion processing deficits and MUS, results were inconsistent and contradictory. By using an ego depletion task as a measure of emotion processing deficits, this study compared performance on different aspects of emotion processing of people who scored high on a MUS measure with the people who scored low on the same measure. Results show that high symptom reporters were not significantly different from the low ones in terms of their performance on emotion experience, emotion expression and self-monitoring of their emotional experiences. However, along the same lines with the literature, high symptom reporters could not effectively regulate their negative emotions.

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Social psychology