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


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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    • "The ability to use top–down cognitive control mechanisms, such as reappraisal, to regulate emotional responses as circumstances change is critical for mental and physical health [Eftekhari et al., 2009; Gross and John, 2003a; Gross and Mu~ noz, 1995]. Reappraisal refers to the cognitive reevaluation of a potentially emotionally arousing event, aimed at altering its emotional impact [Gross and Thompson, 2007]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The use of top-down cognitive control mechanisms to regulate emotional responses as circumstances change is critical for mental and physical health. Several theoretical models of emotion regulation have been postulated; it remains unclear, however, in which brain regions emotion regulation goals (e.g., the downregulation of fear) are represented. Here, we examined the neural mechanisms of regulating emotion using fMRI and identified brain regions representing reappraisal goals. Using a multimethodological analysis approach, combining standard activation-based and pattern-information analyses, we identified a distributed network of lateral frontal, temporal, and parietal regions implicated in reappraisal and within it, a core system that represents reappraisal goals in an abstract, stimulus-independent fashion. Within this core system, the neural pattern-separability in a subset of regions including the left inferior frontal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and inferior parietal lobe was related to the success in emotion regulation. Those brain regions might link the prefrontal control regions with the subcortical affective regions. Given the strong association of this subsystem with inner speech functions and semantic memory, we conclude that those cognitive mechanisms may be used for orchestrating emotion regulation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 11/2015; DOI:10.1002/hbm.23053 · 5.97 Impact Factor
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    • "This finding is suggestive of alternations in emotion regulation associated with PTSD symptoms and is consistent with previous research linking PTSD with difficulty regulating negative emotions (e.g. Bonn-Miller et al., 2011; Cloitre et al., 2005; Eftekhari et al., 2009; Ehring & Quack, 2010; Kashdan et al., 2006; Moore et al., 2008; Price et al., 2006; Tull et al., 2007). However, participants' self-reported emotion when asked to enhance their negative emotions was not associated with PTSD symptoms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Retrospective studies suggest a link between PTSD and difficulty regulating negative emotions. This study investigated the relationship between PTSD symptoms and the ability to regulate negative emotions in real-time using a computerised task to assess emotion regulation. Trauma-exposed ambulance workers (N = 45) completed self-report measures of trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms and depression. Participants then completed a computer task requiring them to enhance, decrease or maintain their negative emotions in response to unpleasant images. Skin conductance responses (SCR) were recorded and participants also made ratings of emotion intensity. Immediately after the computer task, participants were asked to describe the strategies they had used to regulate their negative emotions during the task and recorded spontaneous intrusions for the unpleasant images they had seen throughout the following week. PTSD symptoms were associated with difficulty regulating (specifically, enhancing) negative emotions, greater use of response modulation (i.e., suppression) and less use of cognitive change (i.e., reappraisal) strategies to down-regulate their negative emotions during the task. More intrusions developed in participants who had greater reductions in physiological arousal whilst decreasing their negative emotions. PTSD was measured by self-report rather than by a clinician administered interview. The results suggest a relationship between emotion regulation ability and PTSD symptoms rather than emotion regulation and PTSD. Difficulty regulating negative emotions may be a feature of trauma-exposed individuals with PTSD symptoms, which may be linked to the types of strategies they employ to regulate negative emotions.
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 03/2014; 45(3):360-367. DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2014.03.002 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    • "They might indicate danger and thus require immediate response, facilitating survival (Hansen and Hansen, 1988; öhman et al., 2001; Keil and Ihssen, 2004; Schupp et al., 2004; Anderson, 2005; Schimmack and Derryberry, 2005). Although attending to emotion-eliciting stimuli is adaptive, dealing with emotions and the ability to regulate them is necessary for mental health and general well-being (Gross and John, 2003; Eftekhari et al., 2009; McRae et al., 2012b; Boden et al., 2013; D’Avanzato et al., 2013). Emotion regulation (ER) strategies are ways to control and change emotional responses to internal processes or external stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Our brain is unable to fully process all the sensory signals we encounter. Attention is the process that helps selecting input from all available information for detailed processing and it is largely influenced by the affective value of the stimuli. This study examined if attentional bias toward emotional stimuli can be modulated by cognitively changing their emotional value. Participants were presented with negative and neutral images from four different scene-categories depicting humans ("Reading", "Working", "Crying" and "Violence"). Using cognitive reappraisal subjects decreased and increased the negativity of one negative (e.g., "Crying") and one neutral (e.g., "Reading") category respectively, whereas they only had to watch the other two categories (e.g., "Working" and "Violence") without changing their feelings. Subsequently, subjects performed the attentional blink paradigm. Two targets were embedded in a stream of distractors, with the previously seen human pictures serving as the first target (T1) and rotated landmark/landscape images as the second (T2). Subjects then reported T1 visibility and the orientation of T2. We investigated if the detection accuracy of T2 is influenced by the change of the emotional value of T1 due to the reappraisal manipulation. Indeed, T2 detection rate was higher when T2 was preceded by a negative image that was only viewed compared to negative images that were reappraised to be neutral. Thus, more resources were captured by images that have been reappraised before, i.e., their negativity has been reduced. This modulatory effect of reappraisal on attention was not found for neutral images. Possibly upon re-exposure to negative stimuli subjects had to recall the previously performed affective change. In this case resources may be allocated to maintain the reappraised value and therefore hinder the detection of a temporally close target. Complimentary self-reported ratings support the reappraisal manipulation of negative images.
    Frontiers in Psychology 02/2014; 5:143. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00143 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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