Article

How to handle anxiety: The effects of reappraisal, acceptance, and suppression strategies on anxious arousal.

Department of Psychology, Boston University, 648 Beacon Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02215-2002, USA.
Behaviour Research and Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.85). 03/2009; 47(5):389-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.02.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT It has been suggested that reappraisal strategies are more effective than suppression strategies for regulating emotions. Recently, proponents of the acceptance-based behavior therapy movement have further emphasized the importance of acceptance-based emotion regulation techniques. In order to directly compare these different emotion regulation strategies, 202 volunteers were asked to give an impromptu speech in front of a video camera. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The Reappraisal group was instructed to regulate their anxious arousal by reappraising the situation; the Suppression group was asked to suppress their anxious behaviors; and the Acceptance group was instructed to accept their anxiety. As expected, the Suppression group showed a greater increase in heart rate from baseline than the Reappraisal and Acceptance groups. Moreover, the Suppression group reported more anxiety than the Reappraisal group. However, the Acceptance and Suppression groups did not differ in their subjective anxiety response. These results suggest that both reappraising and accepting anxiety is more effective for moderating the physiological arousal than suppressing anxiety. However, reappraising is more effective for moderating the subjective feeling of anxiety than attempts to suppress or accept it.

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    ABSTRACT: Studies from European-American cultures consistently reported that expressive suppression was associated with worse emotional consequence (e.g. depression) in comparison with acceptance. However, this conclusion may not apply to Chinese, as suppressing emotional displays to maintain relational harmony is culturally valued in East Asian countries. Thus, the present study examined the effects of suppression and acceptance on the depressive mood induced by a frustrating task in a Chinese sample. Sixty-four subjects were randomly assigned to one of three instructions: suppression, acceptance or no-regulation during a frustrating arithmetic task. The experience of depressive emotion and skin conductance response (SCR) were recorded during pre-frustration baseline, frustration induction and post-frustration recovery phases, respectively. Compared with the control and acceptance instructions, suppression instruction was associated with decreased depressive experiences and smaller SCR activity during frustration. There were no significant differences between acceptance and control groups in both subjective depression and SCR activity during frustration. Moreover, the suppression group showed a better emotional recovery after the frustrating task, in comparison with the acceptance and control groups. Correlation analyses verified that SCR reactivity was a reliable index of experienced depression during the frustration. Expressive suppression is effective in reducing depressive experiences and depression-related physiological activity (SCR) when Chinese people are involved. By contrast, the acceptance of depressive emotion in Chinese people does not produce a similar regulation effect. These findings suggest that cultural context should be considered in understanding the emotional consequences of suppression and acceptance strategies.
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    ABSTRACT: Affective states influence subsequent attention allocation. We evaluated emotional negativity bias modulation by reappraisal in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) relative to normal controls. Event-related potential (ERP) recordings were obtained, and changes in P200 and P300 amplitudes in response to negative or neutral words were noted after decreasing negative emotion or establishing a neutral condition. We found that in GAD patients only, the mean P200 amplitude after negative word presentation was much higher than after the presentation of neutral words. In normal controls, after downregulation of negative emotion, the mean P300 amplitude in response to negative words was much lower than after neutral words, and this was significant in both the left and right regions. In GAD patients, the negative bias remained prominent and was not affected by reappraisal at the early stage. Reappraisal was observed to have a lateralized effect at the late stage.
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    ABSTRACT: Reappraisal is a well-known emotion regulation strategy. Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that reappraisal recruits both medial and lateral prefrontal brain regions. However, few studies have investigated neural representation of reappraisals associated with anticipatory anxiety, and the specific nature of the brain activity underlying this process remains unclear. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate neural activity associated with reappraisals of transient anticipatory anxiety. Although transient anxiety activated mainly subcortical regions, reappraisals targeting the anxiety were associated with increased activity in the medial and lateral prefrontal regions (including the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices). Reappraisal decreased fear circuit activity (including the amygdala and thalamus). Correlational analysis demonstrated that reductions in subjective anxiety associated with reappraisal were correlated with orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex activation. Reappraisal recruits medial and lateral prefrontal regions; particularly the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices are associated with successful use of this emotion regulation strategy.
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