Cluster-based characterization of consistencies in individuals’ thought profiles at rest in a cohort of 1779 French university students

Sandrine Cremona, Marc Joliot, Emmanuel Mellet
Curr Psychol. 2022-12-27; :
DOI: 10.1007/s12144-022-04185-6

Is ongoing conscious thought spontaneous and situation-related, or is it recurrent and dependent on psychological dispositions? The answer is critical for resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) paradigms that seek to correlate neuroanatomical states with conscious mental states. The goal of the present study was to characterize individual resting state thought profiles (RSTPs) and identify the recurrent ones, i.e., that could both be predicted by personality traits and predict subsequent negative affective states. The 1779 participants had a mean age of 22.1 years, 71.8% were females, and 71.8% were undergraduates. We collected the form and content of their thoughts during a 15-min RSFC session with a computerized retrospective self-questionnaire (ReSQ 2.0). Subsamples of participants also completed online autoquestionnaires assessing their psychological maturity and trait negative affectivity (with a four-day gap on average, N = 1270) and subsequent depressive and anxious states (1.4 years later on average, N = 922). Based on the multiple correspondence and clustering analyses of the ReSQ 2.0 responses, we identified six RSTPs distinctive by their content scope, temporal orientation, empathetic concern, and emotional valence. Multivariate analyses revealed that the probability of experiencing five of the six RSTPs was predicted by trait negative affectivity interacting with psychological maturity. Among them, a negatively valenced RSTP also increased the likelihood of subsequent negative affective states, suggesting its stable and recurrent nature. Identifying recurrent RSTPs is helpful for the future understanding of RSTPs’ contribution to RSFC. Additionally, it will be relevant to test whether acting on psychological maturity can alter the relationship between ongoing conscious thought and negative affectivity.

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