Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-sjtt6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T19:08:01.010Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Positive appraisal style: The mental immune system?1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2015

Laura Luyten
Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Yannick Boddez
Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Dirk Hermans
Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Instead of converging to one, all-embracing resilience mechanism – that is, positive appraisal style – we encourage complementary research strategies, exploring both vulnerabilities and resilience factors, much like the biomedical sciences combine insights from pathophysiology and immunology. Furthermore, we argue that research with a strong focus on one central resilience mechanism may overlook or undervalue other processes that can aid in maintaining mental health.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



The authors contributed equally to the preparation of this commentary.


Boddez, Y., Baeyens, F., Hermans, D., Van der Oord, S. & Beckers, T. (2013a) Increasing the selectivity of threat through post-training instructions: Identifying one stimulus as source of danger reduces the threat value of surrounding stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology 4(4):315–24. doi: 10.5127/jep.028512.Google Scholar
Boddez, Y., Baeyens, F., Luyten, L., Vansteenwegen, D., Hermans, D. & Beckers, T. (2013b) Rating data are underrated: Validity of US expectancy in human fear conditioning. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 44(2):201206. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.08.003.Google Scholar
Bouton, M. E. (2002) Context, ambiguity, and unlearning: Sources of relapse after behavioral extinction. Biological Psychiatry 52(10):976–86.Google Scholar
Fava, G. A. & Tomba, E. (2009) Increasing psychological well-being and resilience by psychotherapeutic methods. Journal of Personality 77(6):1903–34. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00604.x.Google Scholar
Grol, M., Koster, E. H., Bruyneel, L. & De Raedt, R. (2014) Effects of positive mood on attention broadening for self-related information. Psychological Research 78(4):566–73. doi: 10.1007/s00426-013-0508-6.Google ScholarPubMed
Kalisch, R., Wiech, K., Critchley, H. D. & Dolan, R. J. (2006b) Levels of appraisal: A medial prefrontal role in high-level appraisal of emotional material. NeuroImage 30(4):1458–66. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.11.011.Google Scholar
Lommen, M. J. J. & Ehlers, A. (2014) New interventions for fear generalisation. Paper presented at the sixth European Meeting on Human Fear Conditioning, Affligem, Belgium, May 2014.Google Scholar
Meiser, T. (2011) Much pain, little gain? Paradigm-specific models and methods in experimental psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science 6(2):183191. doi: 10.1177/1745691611400241.Google Scholar
Opialla, S., Lutz, J., Scherpiet, S., Hittmeyer, A., Jäncke, L., Rufer, M., Grosse Holtforth, M., Herwig, U. & Brühl, A. B. (2014) Neural circuits of emotion regulation: A comparison of mindfulness-based and cognitive reappraisal strategies. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. doi: 10.1007/s00406-014-0510-z.Google Scholar
Padesky, C. A. & Mooney, K. A. (2012) Strengths-based cognitive-behavioural therapy: A four-step model to build resilience. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy 19(4):283–90. doi: 10.1002/cpp.1795.Google Scholar
Raes, F., Williams, J. M. & Hermans, D. (2009) Reducing cognitive vulnerability to depression: A preliminary investigation of MEmory Specificity Training (MEST) in inpatients with depressive symptomatology. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 40(1):2438. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2008.03.001.Google Scholar
Rutter, M. (1993) Resilience: Some conceptual considerations. Journal of Adolescent Health 14(8):626–31.Google Scholar
Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G. & Teasdale, J. D. (2002) Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Seligman, M. E., Rashid, T. & Parks, A. C. (2006) Positive psychotherapy. American Psychologist 61(8):774–88. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.8.774.Google Scholar
Watkins, E. R., Baeyens, C. B. & Read, R. (2009) Concreteness training reduces dysphoria: Proof-of-principle for repeated cognitive bias modification in depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 118(1):5564. doi: 10.1037/a0013642.Google Scholar
Watkins, E. R., Taylor, R. S., Byng, R., Baeyens, C., Read, R., Pearson, K. & Watson, L. (2012) Guided self-help concreteness training as an intervention for major depression in primary care: A phase II randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine 42(7):1359–71. doi: 10.1017/S0033291711002480.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed