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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Mar;78(3):499-508.

Talking facilitates cognitive-emotional processes of adaptation to an acute stressor.

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Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, New York 11210, USA.


The authors examined the influence of talking and the social context of talking on cognitive-emotional processes of adjustment to stressors. Two hundred fifty-six undergraduates viewed a stressful stimulus and were then assigned to a no-talk control condition or 1 of 3 talk conditions: talk alone, talk to a validating confederate, or talk to an invalidating confederate. Two days later, they were reexposed to the stressor. Compared with individuals in the no-talk condition, those in the talk alone and validate conditions had a lower level of intrusive thoughts in the 2-day interim, and they had lower perceived stress when reexposed to the stressor. The effects of talking and validation on perceived stress appeared to be mediated by lowered intrusions. The benefits of talking were diluted when disclosures were invalidated. These findings suggest that talking about acute stressors can facilitate adjustment to stressors through cognitive resolution.

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