Article

Seeing the Silver Lining: Cognitive Reappraisal Ability Moderates the Relationship Between Stress and Depressive Symptoms

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 11/2010; 10(6):783-95. DOI: 10.1037/a0020262
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Individuals differ in their adjustment to stressful life events, with some exhibiting impaired functioning, including depression, while others exhibit impressive resilience. The present study examined the hypothesis that the ability to deploy a particularly adaptive type of emotion regulation-cognitive reappraisal-may be a protective factor. It expands upon existing research in three ways. First, participants' ability to use reappraisal (cognitive reappraisal ability: CRA) was measured by using a behavioral challenge that assessed changes in experiential and physiological domains, rather than questionnaires. Second, all participants had been exposed to one or more recent stressful life events, a context in which emotion regulation may be particularly important. Third, a community sample of 78 women aged 20 to 60 was recruited, as opposed to undergraduates. Results indicate that, at low levels of stress, participants' CRA was not associated with depressive symptoms. However, at high levels of stress, women with high CRA exhibited less depressive symptoms than those with low CRA, suggesting that CRA may be an important moderator of the link between stress and depressive symptoms.

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    • "Differences between depressed and non-depressed individuals in neural correlates of reappraisal have also been documented and are associated with less effective down-regulation of negative affect (Johnstone et al. 2007; Siegle et al. 2007). Similarly, one recent study demonstrated that, among college students who had recently experienced a stressor, higher levels of depressive symptoms were associated with reduced effectiveness of reappraisal in a laboratory film task (Troy et al. 2010). McRae et al. (2012) found that individuals higher in well-being exhibited more effective reappraisal in response to a laboratory task, and reappraisal effectiveness on this task interestingly was associated with more frequent habitual reappraisal use. "
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    • "The results of the two studies suggested that RIT performance was largely independent of the habitual use of reappraisal, as measured with the ERQ that measures frequency and does not ask about performance (Gross & John, 2003). These findings are in agreement with prior studies that similarly documented independence or small correlations between ERQ reappraisal and reappraisal ability, as indexed by the down regulation of negative affect and physiological activity when confronted with aversive stimuli (Troy et al., 2010). Notably, in Study 2, independence was also assured when scales that assessed angerspecific reappraisal were used, indicating that the independence of RIT performance and the tendency to reappraise was not due to differences between emotion-specific (RIT) and emotionunspecific measures (ERQ). "
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we propose a new ability approach to reappraisal that focuses on individual differences in the ability to spontaneously generate different reappraisals for critical situations. Adopting concepts from the realms of creativity and divergent thinking, we developed the Reappraisal Inventiveness Test (RIT) to measure a person's fluency and flexibility in inventing as many categorically different reappraisals for an anger-eliciting situation as possible within a limited period of time. The results of two studies in which we examined the psychometric characteristics of the RIT provided evidence that the RIT produces reliable test scores. The construct validity of the RIT was confirmed by positive associations of reappraisal inventiveness with openness to experience and tests that measure divergent thinking. Moreover, RIT performance proved to be unrelated to the self-reported habitual use of reappraisal, indicating differences between ability tests and self-report measures. RIT performance was not significantly related to Neuroticism or to trait anger. In our view, this points to the notion that effective emotion regulation is a function of both the ability and the motivation to act upon one's ability to generate reappraisals for critical situations.
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    • "We need to determine the extent to which each of these concepts, and which aspects of them, are most associated with improvement in emotion regulation ability, as measured through self-report as well as physiological and behavioral measures (cf. Troy et al. 2010). There is extensive research from organizational psychology indicating that ''performing'' emotion display rules in occupational settings often leads to suppression and emotional distress (Bono and Vey 2005; Brotheridge and Grandey 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Goal orientation theory is concerned with per-formance and learning goals in academic, athletic, and other ability areas. Here we examine performance and learning goals for emotion regulation. We define perfor-mance goals for emotion regulation as seeking to prove one's ability to manage emotions; learning goals for emotion regulation are defined as seeking to improve one's ability to manage emotions. In two studies, we tested the hypothesis that performance goals for emotion regulation would be associated with greater use of defensive emotion regulation strategies and depressive symptoms. Results from both studies showed that individuals with greater performance goals for emotion regulation reported higher levels of rumination and thought suppression and greater depressive symptoms, while individuals with greater learning goals reported greater use of cognitive reappraisal. The findings suggest that goals for emotion regulation may help explain individual differences in use of defensive versus constructive emotion regulation strategies.
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