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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00610

Do primary emotions predict psychopathological symptoms? A multigroup path analysis

Jürgen Fuchshuber1, Michaela Hiebler-Ragger1, Adelheid Kresse1, Hans-Peter Kapfhammer1 and  Human F. Unterrainer2*
  • 1Medical University of Graz, Austria
  • 2University of Vienna, Austria

Background: Research involving animal models has repeatedly proposed dysregulations in subcortically rooted affective systems as a crucial etiological factor in the development of a variety of psychiatric disorders. However, empirical studies with human participants testing these hypotheses have been sparse. Associations between primary emotions systems and different psychiatric symptoms were investigated in order to gain insights into the influence of evolutionary-rooted primary emotions on psychopathology.
Material and Methods: The community sample included 616 adults (61.9% female). 243 reported a psychiatric lifetime diagnosis. By applying path analysis, we estimated paths between SEEKING, ANGER, FEAR, SADNESS, CARE and PLAY (Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales; ANPS) and symptoms of substance abuse (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test; ASSIST) as well as depression, anxiety and somatization (Brief Symptom Inventory; BSI-18). To examine the moderator effects of gender and psychiatric lifetime diagnosis, multigroup analysis was applied.
Results: Substance abuse was associated with male sex (β = -.25), SADNESS (β = .25) and ANGER (β = .10). Depression was associated with SADNESS (β = .53), FEAR (β = .10), SEEKING (β = -.10) and PLAY (β = -.15). Anxiety was linked to SADNESS (β = .33), FEAR (β = .21) and PLAY (β = -.10). Somatization was associated with SADNESS (β = .26) and PLAY (β = -.12; all p < .001). Multigroup analysis revealed no differences in paths between tested groups (all p > .01). The model explained 14% of the variance of substance abuse, 52% of depression, 32% of anxiety and 14% of somatization.
Conclusions: The results further our understanding of the differential role of primary emotions in the development of psychopathology. In this, the general assumption that primary emotion functioning might be a valuable target in mental health care is underlined.

Keywords: Primary emotions, Path analysis, Depression, substance use disorder, Anxiety disorder, Somatization

Received: 12 May 2019; Accepted: 31 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Yuan-Pang Wang, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Reviewed by:

George P. Chrousos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Andrea Norcini Pala, Columbia University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Fuchshuber, Hiebler-Ragger, Kresse, Kapfhammer and Unterrainer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Human F. Unterrainer, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,