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Title: Does talking really help? : Underlying mechanisms and moderators of the effects of social disclosure in the fading affect bias
Author: Muir, Kate
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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Negative emotions associated with event memories fade in intensity to a greater extent over time than positive emotions (Fading Affect Bias or F AB). Frequent social disclosure of event memories has previously been found to enhance the FAB, with frequent social disclosure associated with increases in positive and decreases in negative emotional intensity. In this thesis, two pilot studies and a major experimental study (N "" 140) combined a novel experimental paradigm and qualitative analysis to explore mechanisms underlying the effects of social disclosure on the FAB. Results indicated that verbal emotional expression alone was not sufficient to enhance the FAB, but the presence and behaviour of a listener is an important factor. Socially disclosing positive events increased affect intensity, regardless of the behaviour of the listener. Whilst social disclosure of negative events to an interactive listener decreased affect intensity, social disclosure to a non-responsive listener led to an increase in affect intensity. The effects of socially disclosing positive events lasted for a week, but only if listener feedback had been received. Moreover, the individual difference measures of alexithymla and neuroticism moderated the effects of social disclosure. Qualitative analysis of social disclosure transcripts using conversation analysis principles identified three main types of listener responses characteristic of the beneficial effects of social disclosure: the development of rapport, expressions of empathy, and encouraging cognitive reappraisal. Finally, lexical analysis of written event descriptions before and after social disclosure revealed social disclosure to an interactive listener is associated with an increase in the emotionality of written descriptions. This thesis provides original evidence that listener behaviour during social disclosure is an important factor in enhancing the F AB. The use of a novel mixed methods approach has further increased our understanding of the mechanisms by which social disclosure and listener behaviour influence the fading affect bias.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available