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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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143. Cognitive effort and delay influence choices about relief

Harmful self-regulatory behaviors (HSRBs) are acts intended to provide affective relief that may also lead to harmful consequences. Common examples of HSRBs are bingeing/purging, substance abuse, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). Given their harmful natures, the reasons that individuals choose to engage in these HSRBs instead of less harmful forms of self-regulation has perplexed researchers, clinicians, and the general public for decades. In this study, we developed and tested two novel behavioral tasks intended to understand whether choices to engage in HSRBs is driven by the preference for for investing (A) less cognitive effort or (B) less wait, or delay for relief. Initial results indicate that both required effort and delay influence participants' choices about relief. We are currently collecting more data to investigate whether these behavioral tasks can reveal group differences between those who do and do not engage in HSRBs.

Peter Franz
Harvard University

Kleiman Evan
Rutgers University

Matthew Nock
Harvard University


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