Chapter 14 – Emotion Regulation
In this chapter, we reviewed the process model of emotion regulation, which categorized strategies into antecedent-focused and response-focused strategies. Antecedent focus strategies include situation selection, situation modification, attention deployment, and cognitive change. Response modulation strategies occur when we try to change any aspect of the emotional experience after our emotional experience has already occurred.
In general, research suggests concentration, distraction, and cognitive reappraisal are efficient strategies to down-regulate our negative emotions. In fact, confronting our negative emotions through writing reduces depressive symptoms, reduces test anxiety, and improves grades and health. Depending on whether the cognitive reappraisal is neutral or positive, this strategy may reduce negative emotions, increase positive emotions, and even improve our memory of an event. Conversely, suppression tends to be an inefficient strategy that hinders memory, reduces performance, increases negative emotion and thoughts, and leads our conversation partners to view us in a negative way. But, remember that the positive outcomes of reappraisal depend on the context. Also, suppression seems to be less detrimental to individuals ascribe to East Asian cultural values.
Most of the research focuses on suppression and reappraisal. In the future, more work should be conducted on other emotion regulation strategies. Although some work has identified how our brain reacts to emotion regulation strategies, more work is needed to determine how the brain and even our physiology changes when we employ specific emotion regulation strategies.