Emotional Connection: Developing a Mobile Intervention for Social and Emotional Dysfunction (2018-2019)

Social isolation and lack of intimate relationships have been tied to severe adverse consequences, including poor health outcomes and premature mortality. Given the severity of this public health crisis, there is a pressing need for new interventions that target and treat problems with social functioning across a range of psychiatric disorders. One potential target for intervention is emotion perception deficits, which are problems with perceiving and understanding other people’s emotions. Previous research suggests that intense emotional distress impairs emotion perception. Therefore, interventions that help patients manage their emotional experiences in social contexts may improve their ability to perceive other people’s emotions.

This Bass Connections project studied whether teaching people to calm down using mindfulness can improve their social skills. Specifically, the project team tested the effects of a new, mindfulness-based intervention on the ability to perceive other people’s emotions. This intervention included a laboratory training session in which people learned how to regulate their emotions with mindful breathing and then one week of reminders of this mindfulness skill, delivered to participants through their mobile phones. This study was conducted with a clinical sample of adults with emotional difficulties. The team began data collection in the spring and plans to continue recruitment in the fall. Additionally, students engaged in their own independent projects, including research conference presentations and the creation of a website designed to provide mental health resources to the community. 

Timing

Fall 2018 – Spring 2019  

Team Outputs

The Role of Emotion Dysregulation in the Ability to Perceive Other People’s Emotions (poster by Kibby McMahon, Victoria Trimm, Bridget Wallace, Zachary Rosenthal, presented at Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 53rd Annual Convention, Atlanta, GA, November 22, 2019)

Predictors of Treatment Engagement and Adherence in a Novel Mhealth Intervention for Emotion Regulation Difficulties (poster by Bridget Wallace, Kibby McMahon, Zachary Rosenthal, presented at Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 53rd Annual Convention, Atlanta, GA, November 22, 2019)

The Dark Side of Emotions: Emotion Dysregulation and Empathy as Predictors of Aggression (poster by Victoria Trimm, Kibby McMahon, Zachary Rosenthal, presented at Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies 53rd Annual Convention, Atlanta, GA, November 23, 2019)

Personal and Interpersonal Skill Assessment (prototype website created by Susie Choi to help individuals improve personal and interpersonal skills)

Emotional Connection: Developing a Mobile Intervention for Social and Emotional Dysfunction (poster by Susie Choi, Julia Long, Victoria Trimm, Bridget Wallace, Kibby McMahon, Caitlin Fang, Zachary Rosenthal, Timothy Strauman, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Reflection

Victoria Trimm

This Team in the News

These Ph.D. Graduates Incorporated Bass Connections into Their Doctoral Education

See related team, Emotional Connection: Developing a Mobile Intervention for Social and Emotional Dysfunction (2019-2020).

Hand holding phone with image of person meditating

Team Leaders

  • Katherine (Kibby) McMahon, Trinity - Psychology and Neuroscience-PHD
  • M. Zachary Rosenthal, School of Medicine-Psychiatry: Behavioral Medicine
  • Timothy Strauman, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience

/graduate Team Members

  • Caitlin Fang, Psychology-AM, Statistical Science - PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Susie Choi, Computer Science (AB)
  • Julia Long, Computer Science (BS), Mathematics (AB2)
  • Victoria Trimm, Psychology (AB)
  • Bridget Wallace, Psychology (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Gary Bennett, Duke Global Digital Health Science Center

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Cognitive Behavioral Research and Therapy Program, Duke Psychiatry