Patterns of emotion regulation and psychopathology.

Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Anxiety, stress, and coping (Impact Factor: 1.55). 05/2009; 22(5):571-86. DOI: 10.1080/10615800802179860
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Emotion regulatory strategies such as higher expressive suppression and lower cognitive reappraisal may be associated with increased psychopathology (Gross & John, 2003). Yet, it is unclear whether these strategies represent distinct cognitive styles associated with psychopathology, such that there are individuals who are predominantly "suppressors" or "reappraisers." Using cluster analysis, we examined whether women with and without exposure to potentially traumatic events evidence distinct patterns of emotion regulation frequency, capacity, suppression, and cognitive reappraisal. Four patterns emerged: high regulators; high reappraisers/low suppressors; moderate reappraisers/low suppressors; and low regulators. Individuals who reported infrequently and ineffectively regulating their emotions (low regulators) also reported higher depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In contrast, individuals who reported frequently and effectively using reappraisal and low levels of suppression (high reappraisers/low suppressors) reported the lowest levels of these symptoms, suggesting that this specific combination of emotion regulation may be most adaptive. Our findings highlight that the capacity to regulate emotions and the ability to flexibly apply different strategies based on the context and timing may be associated with reduced psychopathology and more adaptive functioning.

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