Interpersonal self‐support and attentional bias on negative and positive interpersonal information

Ling‐Xiang Xia, Xu‐Liang Shi, Yi Zhang, Steven D. Hollon
Published Online:
05 Feb 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 6

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Interpersonal self‐support is an indigenous Chinese personality concept. It represents the idealized notion of the kind of personality traits that help individuals deal with interpersonal problems and develop and maintain the harmonic and appropriate social relationships required in China's collectivistic and interdependent culture. It also was assumed to be a protective personality factor with regard to mental health and was found to be negatively related to psychosomatic symptoms. In the current study, cognitive processing of interpersonal information is assumed to be an underlying mechanism that connects interpersonal self‐support with interpersonal relationships and mental health. To test this hypothesis, we conducted two experiments to investigate whether attentional bias on positive and negative interpersonal information was related to high and low interpersonal self‐support. A spatial cueing task and the emotional Stroop task were administered to two samples of high and low interpersonal self‐support Chinese undergraduate students to measure attentional bias. The results from both experiments suggested that high interpersonal self‐support students had an attentional bias toward positive interpersonal information, while low interpersonal self‐support students preferentially attended to negative interpersonal information. Study 1 indicated that attentional bias toward positive interpersonal information was easily engaged in the high interpersonal self‐support group, while attentional bias toward negative interpersonal information was both easy to engage and difficult to disengage in the low interpersonal self‐support students. These results support our hypotheses that high interpersonal self‐support people engage in positive processing of interpersonal information, whereas low interpersonal self‐support people engage in negative processing of interpersonal information. The differential balance between positive and negative processing on interpersonal information may explain why interpersonal self‐support predicts both mental health and interpersonal relationships. In addition, the relational schema may explain why interpersonal self‐support is associated with an attentional bias toward interpersonal information.

© 2013 International Union of Psychological Science