Dr. Stephen Gallagher has published a paper titled; “Unemployment as a chronic stressor: A systematic review of cortisol studies” with Rachel Sumner. The paper was published in the Psychology and Health journal and supported by funding from the Irish Research Council..
Sumner, R.C., & Gallagher, S. (2016). Unemployment as a chronic stressor: A systematic review of cortisol studies, Psychology & Health, 1-23. DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2016.1247841
As most of you reading will know, unemployment is a type of chronic stressor that impacts human health. However this paper aims to underline the reasons for how the stress of unemployment affects health. The reasons for how the stress of unemployment affect health is still a matter of discussion. One of the pathways from chronic stress to ill health is mediated by cortisol, and Dr. Sumner and Dr. Gallagher set out to compile extant data on how its secretion is affected by unemployment.
The study design is a systematic literature search and was conducted to establish the cortisol dysregulatory effects of this stressor. Only studies that specifically examined the effects of unemployment on cortisol excretion, and were written in English were included as main outcome measures.
Looking at the results; ten reports were obtained and synthesised to determine the severity and complexity of the effect of unemployment on cortisol secretion.
The take-home message from this paper is that:
There is mixed evidence for associations between unemployment and cortisol.
This might be explained by variation in study methodologies, and in the definition of “unemployment”.
This might also be explained by the fact that unemployment is not equally stressful for everyone. Individual differences are important!
Click the link below to access the full pdf of Dr. Gallagher’s article:
Dr. Ann-Marie Creaven along with co-author Sinéad Kearns (graduate of the MA Psychology programme at UL) have recently published their paper; “Individual differences in positive and negative emotion regulation: Which strategies explain variability in loneliness?”
This paper cross-sectional psychometric study addresses the gap in the research on the determinants of loneliness and highlights the associations between individual differences in emotion regulation and loneliness. Strategies involving the regulation of both positive and negative emotions were quantified using a vignette-based measure. The paper identifies cognitive reappraisal, being present and negative mental time travel explained the most variance in loneliness. The paper was published in the journal Personality and Mental Health.
Kearns, S. M., & Creaven, A. (2016). Individual differences in positive and negative emotion regulation: Which strategies explain variability in loneliness? Personality and Mental Health, DOI 10.1002/pmh.136
The take home messages from this preliminary study are:
The cognitive discrepancy model and the social needs model of loneliness are not necessarily competing models.
Emotion regulation involves cognitive processes, but also social processes (for example, capitalizing on good news by sharing this with others).
The emotion regulation strategies labelled cognitive reappraisal, being present, and negative mental time travel are identified as correlates of loneliness.
We already know that how we regulate our emotions is important for depression – this study suggests emotion regulation may also be relevant to loneliness.