An initial test of the multidimensional model of emotion regulation
Fairholme, Christopher P
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INTRODUCTION: A number of factors have been identified in the research literature that affect the outcome of emotion regulation (ER) efforts including: (a) the strategy employed (ER Strategy), (b) the goal or outcome of ER efforts (ER Goal), and (c) individual differences in basic emotion experience, such as the peak intensity and decay time of emotions, called Affective Chronometry (AC). It is not yet known how these factors might function collectively to moderate emotion regulation. The multidimensional model of ER posits that we must evaluate ER along each of these dimensions in order to assess the efficacy of ER efforts and make comparisons within or across individuals. This study utilized an experimental paradigm to begin to uncover the interrelationships of the components of the multidimensional model of ER. METHOD: Forty patiicipants underwent a mood induction procedure where they watched a film clip selected to produce negative emotion, during which baseline estimates of AC factors (peak affect intensity and affect decay rate) were taken. Next, participants were randomized to a task that primed them to adopt either an approach or an avoid goal orientation. Then participants completed an acoustic startle probe paradigm where they viewed positive, neutral, and negative pictures and were instructed to utilize one of three different ER strategies (reappraise, suppress or attend) to modulate emotional responses to these pictures. Acoustic eye blink startle magnitude, heart rate, and subjective emotion intensity served as the dependent variables during the experimental iask. RESULTS: Compared to the avoid goal condition, the approach condition evidenced increased acoustic eye blink startle magnitude and heart rate when viewing both pleasant and unpleasant pictures using the attend strategy. AC factors did not moderate ER efforts. DISCUSSION: An avoid ER goal appears to alter the impact of specific ER strategies on affective responding, although this finding was not uniformly found across outcomes and ER strategies. Implications of the findings for the psychological treatment of emotional disorders are discussed in the context of the limitations of the current study and failure to replicate affect modulation of startle response.
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