Implicit Cognition and Psychopathology: Looking Back and Looking Forward
Posted: 24 May 2019
Date Written: May 2019
Implicit cognitive processing is theorized to have a central role in many forms of psychopathology. In the current review, we focus on implicit associations, by which we mean evaluative representations in memory that are difficult to control and do not require conscious reflection to influence affect, cognition, or behavior. We consider definitional and measurement challenges before examining recent empirical evidence for these associations in anxiety, obsessive–compulsive, posttraumatic stress, depressive, and alcohol use disorders. This examination is framed by a brief review of the ways that prominent models of psychopathology represent biased implicit processing of disorder-relevant information. We consider to what extent models reflect more traditional automatic/implicit versus strategic/explicit dual-process perspectives or reflect more recent dynamical systems perspectives in which mental representations are iteratively reprocessed, evolving continuously. Finally, we consider the future research needed to better understand the interactive and temporal dynamics of implicit cognition in psychopathology.
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