Influences of mood on information processing styles in high and low symptom reporters
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Submission date: 2015-09-01
Acceptance date: 2015-10-22
Online publication date: 2015-12-01
Publication date: 2015-11-17
Health Psychology Report 2015;3(4):300-311
Negative mood, which has been strongly linked to the presence of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), is also suggested to modulate the way information is processed (analytic vs. schematic processing style). The present study investigated whether negative mood influences the information processing style differentially in people reporting frequent MUS in daily life.

Participants and procedure
Forty female participants (22 low, 18 high habitual symptom reporters) completed a semantic priming task, as an index of schematic processing, after positive and after negative mood induction in a counterbalanced order. The priming task consisted of neutral or unpleasant body-related and body-unrelated words to assess the specificity of processing style shifts.

The analyses indicated a non-significant tendency for negative mood to increase priming effects compared to positive mood for the high habitual symptom reporters, while the opposite pattern was found for the low symptom reporters. This differential effect of mood was only seen for neutral body-related words.

The current findings suggest that negative mood can trigger schematic processes assumed to be crucial for the emergence of MUS, which may explain the profound link between unpleasantness and elevated symptom reporting in high symptom reporters.
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