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Knowing what you're feeling and knowing what to do about it: Mapping the relation between emotion differentiation and emotion regulation


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Individuals differ considerably in their emotion experience. Some experience emotions in a highly differentiated manner, clearly distinguishing among a variety of negative and positive discrete emotions. Others experience emotions in a relatively undifferentiated manner, treating a range of like-valence terms as interchangeable. Drawing on self-regulation theory, we hypothesised that indivi-duals with highly differentiated emotion experience should be better able to regulate emotions than individuals with poorly differentiated emotion experience. In particular, we hypothesised that emotion differentiation and emotion regulation would be positively related in the context of intense negative emotions, where the press for emotion regulation is generally greatest. To test this hypothesis, parti-cipants' negative and positive emotion differentiation was assessed using a 14-day diary protocol. Participants' regulation of negative and positive emotions was assessed using laboratory measures. As predicted, negative emotion differentiation was positively related to the frequency of negative emotion regulation, particularly at higher levels of emotional intensity.
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Knowing what you’re feeling and knowing what to do
about it: Mapping the relation between emotion
differentiation and emotion regulation
Lisa Feldman Barrett
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA
James Gross
Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA
Tamlin Conner Christensen and Michael Benvenuto
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA
Individuals differ considerably in their emotion experience. Some experience
emotions in a highly differentiated manner, clearly distinguishing among a variety
of negative and positive discrete emotions. Others experience emotions in a
relatively undifferentiated manner, treating a range of like-valence terms as
interchangeable. Drawing on self-regulation theory, we hypothesised that indivi-
duals with highly differentiated emotion experience should be better able to
regulate emotions than individuals with poorly differentiated emotion experience.
In particular, we hypothesised that emotion differentiation and emotion regulation
would be positively related in the context of intense negative emotions, where the
press for emotion regulation is generally greatest. To test this hypothesis, parti-
cipants’ negative and positive emotion differentiation was assessed using a 14-day
diary protocol. Participants’ regulation of negative and positive emotions was
assessed using laboratory measures. As predicted, negative emotion differentiation
was positively related to the frequency of negative emotion regulation, particularly
at higher levels of emotional intensity.
COGNITION AND EMOTION, 2001, 15 (6), 713–724
Correspondenc e should be addressed to Lisa Feldman Barrett at Department of Psychology,
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, 02467; e-mail:
Portions of this article were presented at the bi-annual meeting of the International Society for
Research on Emotion, WuÈrzburg, Germany, 1998, and at the annual meetin g of the Society for
Experimental Social Psychology, Lexington, KY, 1998. Preparation of this article was facilitated by
a grant from the National Science Foundation to Li sa Feldman Barrett (SBR 9727896) and by a grant
from the National Institute of Mental Health to James Gross (MH58147).
#2001 Psychology Press Ltd DOI:10.1080/02699930143000239
At times, we know exactly how we feel: we are angered by blocked goals,
saddened by a loss, or afraid of an impending challenge. At such times, we
represent our feelings in a precise and differentiated fashion. Knowing how we
feel helps to inform us about the significance of the immediate situation, to work
out what we should do next, and to indicate what, if anything, we should do
about changing how we feel. At other times, however, our feelings are a
hopeless muddle. At such times, we represent our feelings in a global fashion,
and resort to describing our feelings as generally pleasant or unpleasant. Not
knowing precisely how we feel, it’s that much harder to use our feelings as
information about our current situation (Schwarz & Clore, 1983, 1996), to work
out what to do next, and to figure out how to go about modifying how we feel.
Emotion differentiation
Just as there are differences in emotional differentiation within any one person
across situations (Feldman Barrett & Aronson, 1998), so too there are differ-
ences in emotional differentiation between individuals (Feldman, 1995; Feldman
Barrett, 1998). Some individuals tend to parse their emotional experience in a
discrete, differentiated fashion. In intensive repeated-measure studies, such as
those afforded by experience-sampling procedures, these individuals display
more distinctive representations of their felt experience across time. They evi-
dence smaller correlations between negative states, such as anger, sadness, and
nervousness, or between different positive states, such as happiness, relaxation,
and enthusiasm.
In contrast, other individuals represent their emotional experiences in an
undifferentiated fashion along a single pleasant-unpleasant dimension. These
individuals evidence large positive correlations between self-reports of similarly
valenced emotional states across episodes. Such correlations suggest that at any
given time, these individuals are not distinguishing between different emotional
experiences, but rather they are using emotion language to represent the general
pleasantness or unpleasantness of their feelings.1One important implication of
differences in emotion differentiation is that individuals who have highly dif-
ferentiated emotion experiences may have more highly activated discrete
emotion knowledge during the representation process than individuals with
global emotion experiences. The emotion knowledge includes the abstract cause
of an experience (i.e., we become angry with someone, afraid of something, sad
about something), its relational context, the expected bodily sensations, its
expressive modes (i.e., display rules for expression), and sequences of action to
take to enhance or reduce the experience (i.e., plans of emotion regulation;
Mesquita & Frijda, 1992; Shweder, 1993). These mental representations func-
1Emotion differentiation is defined by associations, rather than absolute co-occurrence of level,
in self-reports of emotional experience.
tion like culturally constructed internal guides or working models of emotional
episodes (Saarni, 1993). Thus, individual differences in emotion differentiation
may provide important clues regarding the extent to which discrete emotion
knowledge is activated during the process of experiencing emotion.
Emotion differentiation and emotion regulation
If greater emotion differentiation is associated with more highly activated dis-
crete emotion knowledge, emotion differentiation should have implications for
emotion regulation. This is because discrete emotion concepts provide a wealth
of information regarding the behavioural repertoire for dealing with the
experience and coping with the larger situation. If this information is highly
accessible in those who generate differentiated conscious emotional experiences
(because the knowledge contained in those concepts is activated), but not in
those with relatively undifferentiated emotional experiences, individuals with
highly differentiated emotion experience should be at an advantage in regulating
their emotions.
We might expect this differentiation-regulation relationship to be strongest in
the context of intense negative emotions, where the press for emotion regulation
is greatest. Although individuals report regulating both positive and negative
emotions (Parrott, 1993), the greatest call for emotion regulation typically comes
when there are high levels of negative emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear.
Negative emotional experiences have great informational value in signalling the
need to change or adjust one’s current state or activity (Pratto & John, 1991).
Moreover, failure to respond to a negative signal can be very costly because an
individual may not take steps to avoid potential harm (Quigley & Feldman
Barrett, 1999). In contrast, positive emotions appear to motivate an individual to
broaden and build, that is, to explore new intellectual and social pursuits and
store resources for future negative events that require regulatory attempts (see
Fredrickson, 1998, for a review). Failure to capitalise on a positive signal may
prove costly in the long run, but is unlikely to have the immediate effects
associated with failure to regulate a negative emotional episode.
All negative emotion does not require regulation, however. Intense emotional
experiences are more motivationally relevant (Frijda, 1986; Smith & Pope,
1992) and likely signal the need for active coping (Lazarus, 1991) more so than
do less intense experiences. Although many individuals experience their emo-
tions intensely, not everyone can identify what they are feeling with precision
and clarity (Gohm & Clore, 2000). On average, individuals who are aware that
they feel intensely negative may be more motivated to regulate their experience,
but their ability to determine that they are angry, sad, or afraid should facilitate
their regulatory attempts.
Given the particular press to regulate intense negative emotions, we reasoned
that those who could regulate intense negative emotions would do so, and that
individuals with high levels of negative emotion differentiation who also
experienced intense emotional states should therefore report the greatest levels
of negative emotion regulation.
To test our hypothesis that emotion differentiation should be positively related to
emotion regulation, we assessed emotion differentiation and sampled broadly
from a theoretically defined set of emotion regulatory strategies. To assess
emotion differentiation, we asked participants to complete daily diaries for two
weeks concerning their most intense emotion experiences. Emotion differ-
entiation and intensity indices were computed from these experience-sampling
data. To assess emotion regulation, we asked participants to indicate the extent
to which they had regulated their negative and positive emotion over a two week
period. To ensure that there were no artifactual dependencies between our
measures of emotion differentiation and emotion regulation, we used a recall-
based measure of emotion regulation, and obtained this measure prior to the
experience-sampling period used to estimate emotion differentiation.
Our specific prediction was that individuals who reporte d intense negative
emotions, and who showed high levels of negative emotion differentiation in
their diary reports, would report the greatest negative emotion regulation
A total of 53 participants (19 men) completed diary ratings and three laboratory
sessions. The majority of participants (90.5%of final sample) completed at least
three-quarters of their diaries over the observation week. On average, partici-
pants completed 13 of the 14 diaries (SD = 2.21) with a minimum of 5 and a
maximum of 14. All participants received course credit and tickets for a US$50
lottery for their participation.2
Emotion differentiation. We adapted the Rochester Interaction Record
(RIR; Reis & Wheeler, 1991) to assess the nature of participants’ most intense
emotional experience of the day. Participants rated their most intense emotional
2Participants were removed from the sample if: (1) they did not complete the experience-
sampling portion of the study (9 participants), (2) they reported using memory to complete more than
30%of their diaries (13 participants), or (3) if they did not complete enough diaries to produce
variation in their emotion ratings (6 participants). Remove d participants did not display a consistently
different pattern of responses on any variable s of interest when compared to those who were retained
in the final sample.
experience each day for 14 days using a series of nine affect terms on a 5-point
Likert scale (0 = not at all, 4 = very much). From these ratings we computed one
positive and one negative emotion differentiation index. The positive emotion
differentiation index was computed by calculating the correlations between the
experience of happiness,joy,enthusiasm, and amusement across time for each
participant. These emotions were chosen because they represented a range of
prototypical pleasant emotional states. Large correlations reflect large degrees of
co-occurrence, and little differentiation in these emotional states, whereas
smaller correlations reflect smaller degrees of co-occurrenc e and more
differentiation (Feldman Barrett, 1998). Fisher r-to-ztransformations were
performed on all correlations before additional analyses were completed. One
set of correlations was computed and averaged for each participant. A similar
procedure was followed for the negative emotion differentiation index (using the
terms nervous,angry,sad,ashamed , and guilty). Coefficient alphas for the
emotion differentiation indices indicated that individuals who displayed a large
correlation between one pair of positive emotions did so for the others as well, a
for positive emotion differentiation = .83, p<.01. A similar situation occurred
for negative emotions, afor negative emotion differentiation = .73, p<.01.
Negative emotion differentiation indices ranged from r=¡.17 to r= .78, with a
mean of r= .33 and a standard deviation of 0.28. Positive differentiation indices
ranged from r= .23 to r= .93, with a mean of r= .74 and a standard deviation of
.32. Unlike previous findings (Feldman Barrett, 1998), the two differentiation
indices were not correlated, r=¡.10, r.s.
Emotion intensity. A momentary intensity index was derived for each
participant by taking the sum of pleasant emotions for days when positive affect
was the dominant subjective state and of unpleasant emotions on days when
negative affect was the dominant state (e.g., Diener, Larsen, Levine, & Emmons,
1985; Larsen & Diener, 1987). Emotion intensity ranged from 0.63 to 2.64, with
a mean of 1.91 and a standard deviation of 0.45. Intensity was moderately
correlated with both the negative (r= .47, p<.01) and the positive (r= .30, p<
.05) emotion discrimination indices.
Emotion regulation. Participants indicated the extent to which they engaged
in nine forms of emotion regulation over the previous two weeks using a 7-point
Likert scale (1 = not at all, 7 = a great deal). Items were carefully chosen to
represent five theoretically defined points in the emotion generative process that
are particularly important to emotion regulation: situation selection, situation
modification, attentional deployment (rumination and distraction), cognitive
change (reappraisal and talking to others), and response modulation (suppression,
masking, and self-soothing) (Gross, 1998). For each of these eight regulation
strategies, participants rated separately the degree to which they had used this
strategy to regulate positive and negative emotions. Items were summed to
compute one two-week experience regulation index for positive emotion and one
for negative emotion. Both scales were internally consistent, afor positive
regulation strategies = .78, p<.01; afor negative regulation strategies = .80,
p<.01. The two indices were moderately correlated, r= .41, p<.01, but as
expected, participants reported regulating their negative emotions more than their
positive emotions, M= 22.08 versus M= 16.17, t(51) = 9.18, p<.01.
Participants attended three laboratory sessions. During the first session, parti-
cipants were introduced to the study as an investigation of how college students
think and feel about their daily life experiences. Participants completed a series
of questionnaire measures during the first session. Next, participants were asked
to keep a detailed record of their most intense emotional experience for a 14-day
period. Participants were given detailed procedures for completing the diaries,
and all items on the diary form were carefully defined. In addition to oral
instructions, participants received written instructions to which they could refer
during the course of the study. Participants took home a practice diary, along
with another set of questionnaire measures, including the regulation ques-
tionnaire. During the second laboratory session, participants returned their
completed questionnaires, and reviewed their practice diary with the experi-
menter. Participants were then given 14 days worth of diaries. They returned
their diaries three times during each recording week, and received extra lottery
tickets for returning their forms on time. Participants who did not return their
forms on time were telephoned within 24 hours and reminded to return the
forms. During the third laboratory session, the experimenter interviewed parti-
cipants about their reactions to the study. Participants indicated whether they
had completed any diaries from memory and, if they had, the percentage of
forms that they had completed from memory. The experimenter stressed that
participants would not be penalised in any way (i.e., they would still receive
credit and lottery tickets) if they had not followed instructions, and that we were
simply interested in obtaining an accurate picture of their data.
We hypothesised that emotion differentiation should be related to emotion
regulation, particularly for negative emotions, and for those who have a pro-
pensity to experience intense emotional states. To test this hypothesis, we
regressed the emotion regulation indices onto emotion differentiation, emotion
intensity, and their cross-product using ordinary least squares (OLS) multiple
regression procedures. One analysis was conducted using the negative emotion
indices (negative emotion differentiation and regulation), and one used the
positive emotion indices (positive emotion differentiation and regulation). All
predictor variables were centred (Aiken & West, 1991).
Negative emotion differentiation
As predicted, individuals with more highly differentiated and more intense
negative emotional experience reported greater emotion regulation. The nega-
tive differentiation—intensity cross-product term was significantly related to the
negative regulation strategy index, b=¡8.47, B=¡.34, t= 2.34, p<.02,
indicating that greater negative emotion differentiation was associated with
greater emotion regulation, especially as emotion intensity increased. This
means that individuals who had smaller correlations among negative emotional
states, indicating more differentiation, reported more frequent regulation of
negative emotions using a range of strategies. This was particularly true for
individuals who both differentiated among emotions and experienced relatively
intense emotions.
In addition, the negative emotion differentiation term was significantly
related to the negative regulation index, b=¡5.90, B=¡.40, t= 2.75, p<.01.
In regression equations with interaction terms in which the predictor variables
have been centred, the lower order regression coefficients are not main effects,
but instead represent the effect of the predictor on the criterion at the mean of the
other predictor variable. Thus, those individuals at an average level of emotional
intensity and who had smaller correlations among negative states, indicating
more differentiation, also reported more frequent negative emotion regulation
using a range of strategies than did those with larger correlations between
negative emotional states. The emotional intensity term was significantly related
to the negative regulation index (b= 2.76, B= .31, t= 1.96, p<.05), indicating
that individuals at an average level of negative differentiation and who evi-
denced intense emotional states reported more frequent negative emotion
regulation than did those with less intense emotional states.
The relations among negative differentiation, intensity, and emotion regula-
tion are graphically presented in Figure 1. Figure 1 shows the simple regression
lines for the association between negative emotion differentiation and emotion
regulation at one standard deviation below, at the mean, and one standard
deviation above the mean of intensity (Aiken & West, 1991). As predicted, those
low in granularity (with large correlations between ratings of negative emotional
states) did not differ in their regulation by intensity. Those high in differentiation
(with small correlations between negative emotional states) reported increased
emotion regulation as the intensity of their experience increased.
Positive emotion differentiation
As predicted, positive emotion differentiation was unrelated to emotion regu-
lation. Neither positive emotion differentiation, nor the intensity-differentiation
cross-product were significantly related to the positive emotion regulation
strategy index (b=¡2.63, B=¡.19, t= 1.34, p<.19, and b= 2.89, B= .12, t=
0.80, p<.43, respectively). Emotional intensity was significantly related to the
regulation strategy index for individuals who evidenced an average level of
positive emotion differentiation (b= 3.67, B= .39, t= 2.60, p<.01), indicating
that individuals characterised by intense emotional experience reported using a
greater number of emotion regulation strategies.
Although it has been argued previously that awareness of affective experience is
likely related to emotion regulation and self-regulation in general (Swinkels &
Giuliano, 1995), the present study provides the first empirical evidence, to our
knowledge, that characteristics of represented emotional experience is related to
emotion regulation. As predicted, individual differences in the propensity to label
negative emotional experiences in a discrete and granular fashion were associated
with increased negative emotion regulation by using a range of strategies, par-
ticularly for those individuals who experience their emotion at greater intensity.
Positive emotion differentiation was not related to any of the regulation variables.
This study is important on several counts. First, it replicates previous studies
indicating there is great variability in the representation of emotional experiences
as discrete (Feldman, 1995; Feldman Barrett, 1998) and verifies that this variation
is related to other aspects of emotion life. Second, it indicates that emotion
Figure 1. Simple Regression Lines for the Association Between Negative Emotion Differentiation
and Emotion Regulation at Different Levels of Emotional Intensity. Negative emotion differentiation
is indexed as one standard deviation below the mean (high differentiation), at the mean (averag e
differentiation), and one standard deviation above t he mean (low differentiation), of the average
correlation between negativ e emotion ratings.
regulation must be considered separately for positive and negative emotion. This
is likely because negative emotions are more heavily regulated in our current
cultural context. Global measures of emotion regulation (i.e., a strategy index that
did not separate positive and negative emotion, as well as broad statements about
emotion regulation more generally) were not related to emotional differentiation
in the present study. By extrapolation, it would be interesting to see whether
emotional differentiation is more strongly related to those specific negative
emotions that are more highly regulated (e.g., anger) when compared to those
negative emotions that are not modified as frequently (e.g., sadness).
These findings are consistent with two broad perspectives in the emotion
literature. First, they are consistent with an affect-as-information perspective.
According to that perspective, specific emotional states have more adaptive
value than global affective states, in part, because experiences of specific, dif-
ferentiated emotional states are less subject to misattribution errors (Clore &
Parrott, 1991; Keltner, Locke, & Audrain, 1993; Schwarz, 1990; Schwarz &
Clore, 1996). One of the principal distinguishing features of a discrete emotional
state, in comparison to a globa l affective state, is that emotions are typically
associated with a causal object, whereas global affect ive states are not (affect is,
of course, caused, but an object is not attributed to the feeling state; Russell &
Feldman Barrett, 1999). Identification of the source of an emotional state has
important consequences (Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993; Johnson,
Nolde, & De Leonardis, 1996). This study has reinforced this claim by showing
that emotion differentiation is correlated with emotion regulation.
Second, our findings are consistent with an emotional intelligence perspective.
Emotional intelligence is broadly defined as the ability to perceive emotions in
self and other, to reflectively regulate emotions, and to access and generate
emotional experiences to inform adaptation (Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Salovey &
Sluyter, 1997). Recently, the concept of emotional intelligence has come under
scrutiny, with some researchers claiming that the construct does not have validity
(Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998). Taken together, however, emotion differ-
entiation and the aspects of emotion regulation assessed in the present study seem
to comprise two important components of the emotional intelligence concept, and
in the process support its validity (Feldman Barrett & Gross, 2000). Those
individuals with the ability to distinguish among negative emotional states and
subsequently regulate their emotions may prove more ‘‘emotionally intelligent’’
than those who have less differentiated emotion representations.
One important caveat is that the analyses presented in this study were correla-
tional, and therefore no causal connection between emotion differentiation and
emotion regulation can be assumed. The findings are certainly consistent with
the hypothesis that emotion differentiation sets the stage for emotion regulation,
but they do not conclusively demonstrate this. It is also possible that more
frequent emotion regulation allows for finer grained differentiation. Indeed,
participants reported emotional experiences in their daily diaries that could have
been the result of, rather than the input to, regulatory attempts. Individuals who
are well-practised at emotion regulation may experience the automatic activa-
tion of a rich network of semantic and affective representations (comprised of
both linguistic labels and organised personal experiences) that are easily
accessible due to repeated use. Such individuals may be able to easily represent
their emotional experience in a finely differentiated way without effort or intent.
Future dire ctions
These findings suggest a number of interesting next steps. First, it will be
important to replicate the differentiation-regulation relationship both with a
broader range of participants (other than healthy college students) and using
experimental methodology (by manipulating emotion differentiation and
examining the impact of such manipulations on emotion regulation ease and
success). Second, it would be important to determine whether emotion differ-
entiation is related to regulation efficacy (i.e., to more adaptive use of regulation
strategies). Our focus in this report was on emotion regulation frequency , but in
future studies, it will be important to assess whether emotion differentiation is
reliably associated with the use of particular emotion regulation strategies.
Third, it would be important to consider whether the differentiation-regulation
link occurs only for consciously mediated states, or whether it also exists for
automatically generated and regulated states. Finally, it would be important to
develop and extend this view to develop a broader conceptualisation of the
processes that link emotional differentiation to emotion regulation. The current
findings are consistent with the view that both emotion differentiation and
emotion regulation are influenced by a combination of accessible emotion
knowledge (as evidenced by differentiation in conscious emotional experience)
and the motivation to use that knowledge (as evidenced by the propensity to
experience intense emotional states). The differentiation-regulation link also
may be due to underlying differences in the availability of complex emotion
knowledge, as well as the cognitive resources to use the knowledge in any given
instance (Feldman Barrett & Gross, 2000).
Manuscript received 25 January 2000
Revised manuscript received 2 April 2001
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... One of the key psychological functioning pertinent to both emotions and cognitive appraisal is emotion differentiation. Emotion differentiation (ED) refers to the ability to differentiate general emotional experiences and identify and label discrete emotional states (Barrett, Gross, Christensen, & Benvenuto, 2001). Based on the feeling-as-information perspective (Schwarz, 1990), emotion differentiation provides fine-grained information about a situation, which helps decipher affective cues, decrease misattribution errors, and facilitate adaptive judgement (Gohm & Clore, 2000). ...
... Depending on the directionality of emotional valence, emotion differentiation can be categorized as negative and positive emotion differentiation. Empirical studies have shown that identifying and labeling negative emotions facilitate effective emotion regulation strategies and psychological health (Barrett et al., 2001;Ottenstein, 2020). Negative emotion differentiation may serve as a resilience mechanism to reduce the risk of alcohol consumption (Kashdan et al., 2010). ...
... Consistent with the literature (Hershfield, Scheibe, Sims, & Carstensen, 2012;Kashdan et al., 2015), ED was perceived as a trait in this study. Following pre-established procedures (Barrett et al., 2001;Pond et al., 2012), NED was calculated by taking the average intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for all NA items across all assessment points. By the same token, PED was calculated by taking the average intraclass correlation for all PA items across all assessment points. ...
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Daily life events often trigger and co-occur with various emotional reactions, which activate self-regulatory processes. One possible outcome of self-regulatory processes is optimism. Limited research has examined optimism in daily life and potential daily predictors including stressors, negative emotions, and positive emotions. Emotion differentiation-the ability to identify and label discrete emotional states-has the potential to change the association between daily predictors and optimism. The current study contextualized optimism in the emotion-laden daily life and examined the association of daily stressors and daily negative and positive emotional states to daily optimism and the role of negative and positive emotion regulation on these relationships. The current study adopted a daily diary design and collected self-reported daily responses from a sample of 248 college students over a seven-day study period. The results included concurrent and lagged effects and showed that daily negative affect and positive affect predicted both concurrent daily optimism and the next day's optimism. Greater negative emotion differentiation predicted higher daily optimism. A better ability to differentiate positive emotions predicted a stronger relation between positive affect and daily optimism. The findings underscored the importance of daily affect and emotion differentiation being important markers for optimism interventions and daily practices.
... Similarly, emotional conceptualization was evaluated using selfreport measures. Emotional intensity, arousal, and granularity were extracted from two emotion experience tasks that involved standardized material (emotion differentiation task; ED, e.g., Nook et al., 2018) and self-experienced episodes (DRM; Barrett et al., 2001;Lee et al., 2017). ...
... As the second emotional task, we used an online-adapted version of the DRM (Barrett et al., 2001;Lee et al., 2017). The DRM was conducted two times on two different days. ...
... 4 It must be noted that the positive association between sensibility scores and emotional granularity was exclusively observed for negative words. Although we did not predict a valence-specific effect, this finding converges with previous studies showing stronger associations between the granularity for negative words and external indicators (Barrett et al., 2001;Demiralp et al., 2012;Kashdan and Farmer, 2014;Kalokerinos et al., 2019). One potential reason for the divergence between the granularity for positive and negative words may be related to the fact that, at least in the current sample, granularity for positive words did not reflect the differentiation between emotional experiences to the same extent as granularity for negative words. ...
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The theory of constructed emotions suggests that different psychological components, including core affect (mental and neural representations of bodily changes), and conceptualization (meaning-making based on prior experiences and semantic knowledge), are involved in the formation of emotions. However, little is known about their role in experiencing emotions. In the current study, we investigated how individual differences in interoceptive sensibility and emotional conceptualization (as potential correlates of these components) interact to moderate three important aspects of emotional experiences: emotional intensity (strength of emotion felt), arousal (degree of activation), and granularity (ability to differentiate emotions with precision). To this end, participants completed a series of questionnaires assessing interoceptive sensibility and emotional conceptualization and underwent two emotion experience tasks, which included standardized material (emotion differentiation task; ED task) and self-experienced episodes (day reconstruction method; DRM). Correlational analysis showed that individual differences in interoceptive sensibility and emotional conceptualization were related to each other. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed two independent factors that were referred to as sensibility and monitoring. The Sensibility factor, interpreted as beliefs about the accuracy of an individual in detecting internal physiological and emotional states, predicted higher granularity for negative words. The Monitoring factor, interpreted as the tendency to focus on the internal states of an individual, was negatively related to emotional granularity and intensity. Additionally, Sensibility scores were more strongly associated with greater well-being and adaptability measures than Monitoring scores. Our results indicate that independent processes underlying individual differences in interoceptive sensibility and emotional conceptualization contribute to emotion experiencing.
... For example, one might need to deploy his emotion regulation skills to adapt to an unappreciative and difficult boss at the workplace so as to maintain cordial workplace relations. According to a study, greater emotional granularity is associated with higher emotion regulation skills, that is, people who are able to recognize their emotions and label them specifically are the ones who have more control over their emotions (Barrett et al., 2001). The ability to stay balanced and manage strong or difficult emotions leads to resilience (Fernandez, 2016). ...
Emotional resilience may be seen as the ability of an individual to cope with adversities and bounce back from failures. Emotional resilience requires a high degree of self-awareness, strong self-regulation and a host of other attributes. Factors like stress, burnout, lack of social support and negative thinking are enemies of emotional resilience. Most of the existing models of emotional resilience deal with children, adolescents, the armed forces or patients. They do not take into account factors affecting emotional resilience of an adult in general. This article aims to study the concept of emotional resilience in adults, analyse key factors affecting the same and propose a new theoretical model of emotional resilience for adults. In addition, based on the literature and experiential knowledge of the authors, this article seeks to develop 12 propositions based on the antecedents of emotional resilience in adults.
... Some of the methods still in used today to capture interoceptive accuracy were developed based on this tradition (Pennebaker & Hoover, 1984). In line with findings that emotion differentiation is related to emotion regulation capacity (Barrett et al., 2001), we assumed that an increased ability to detect arousal changes and the flexible adaptation of predictions on them (Ainley et al., 2016) might also be helpful during emotion regulation. ...
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Peripheral emotion theories suggest a crucial role of interoception for emotion perception, which in turn facilitates emotion regulation. Laboratory studies found positive relations between interoceptive accuracy and perceived emotion intensity and arousal. Studies in natural settings are largely missing, but seem important by virtue of emotional experience and regulation diversity. On hundred seven participants underwent a cardiovascular interoceptive accuracy task. Afterwards, participants provided detailed information on perceived emotions and emotion regulation strategies in an ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Multilevel models were calculated. In consideration of valence, emotion intensity, arousal, intensity of body sensations and, emotion regulation success were modeled as a function of centered interoceptive accuracy. Interoceptive accuracy did not predict any emotion perception criterion. Lower accuracy was related to a slightly stronger decrease of perceived arousal after regulation. Differences in emotion categories, intensity, and sample collection might explain divergences to laboratory studies.
... For example, existing (albeit limited) evidence supports an association between emotional eating and interoceptive ability (Van Strien, 2000), and neuropsychological evidence supports that interoception is closely linked to emotion processing (Damasio, 1994(Damasio, , 1999. Disruptions in the ability to identify visceral states, and subsequently emotions, makes it challenging to engage in effective emotion regulation (Barrett et al., 2001). To our knowledge, interoception has never been explored as a moderator of the association between boredom proneness and emotional eating. ...
Emotional eating is associated with weight gain and difficulty losing weight during weight loss interventions. Theoretical and empirical work suggest boredom may be an important predictor of problematic eating behaviors. Yet, little work has examined the role of boredom in emotional eating. Further, individual differences in the ability to recognize internal cues (i.e., interoception) may alter the impact of boredom on emotional eating. This study hypothesized that boredom proneness would predict unique variance in emotional eating after accounting for negative and positive affect, and that the association between boredom proneness and emotional eating would be stronger among those with poorer interoceptive ability compared to those with better interoceptive ability. Hypotheses were tested in two large samples using multiple linear regression. Participants aged 18–65 were recruited from MTurk (n = 365; 59.2% female) and an undergraduate research pool (n = 461; 52.9% female). Participants completed self-report measures: Boredom Proneness Scale; Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire- Emotional Eating; Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness-2; Intuitive Eating Scale-2- Reliance on Hunger and Satiety Cues; and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Boredom proneness was a significant predictor of emotional eating in both samples, even accounting for the broad dimensions of negative and positive affect (ps < .001). Interoception did not moderate the association between boredom proneness and emotional eating in either sample (ps > .05), but was an independent predictor of emotional eating (ps < .001). Boredom proneness and interoceptive ability may warrant attention as targets in the prevention and treatment of emotional eating. Future work should continue exploring different emotion categories and different facets of interoception in emotional eating, as well as examine novel mechanisms that could inform intervention efforts.
... As negative emotion has previously been related to increased loudness perception (Asutay and V€ astfj€ all, 2012), we expect participants in the negative information condition to rate the sound as louder. In line with previous research on emotion regulation (Barrett et al., 2001;Dixon-Gordon et al., 2015), we predicted that the negative information manipulation would result in the participants being more inclined to employ emotion regulation strategies generally. In particular, we hypothesized that they would report greater use of strategies associated with disengaging from the sound (i.e., suppression, distraction), as previous studies suggest that these strategies are more likely to be endorsed when a stimulus is more negative and more intense. ...
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In the current study, we provided participants with written information about emotional dimensions of a sound presented as a task-irrelevant sound in the context of a serial recall task. We were interested in whether this manipulation would influence sound perception and spontaneous use of emotion regulation strategies. Participants were informed that they would hear either an aversive and annoying sound, or a pleasant and calming sound. They subsequently performed three blocks of a serial recall task with the sound presented in the background and rated the sound after each block. Results showed that participants in the negative information group rated the sound as more negative, with effects diminishing over repeated trials. While not impacting emotion regulation strategy directly, the manipulation indirectly influenced the degree to which participants used mental suppression as a regulatory strategy via changing affective responses. In the negative information condition specifically, participants who experienced the sound as more negative were more inclined to use mental suppression to deal with the sound, whereas no such relationship was observed in the positive information condition. The study adds to our understanding of how sounds come to acquire emotional meaning and how individuals spontaneously cope with emotional, task-irrelevant sounds.
... behavioral cues (Denham, 1998). Children adept in these skills are better able to regulate their own emotions (Barrett et al., 2001;Eisenberg et al., 2005;Miller et al., 2006;Hudson and Jacques, 2014). They are also far more socially competent. ...
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The present study investigated the respective roles of withdrawal, language, and context-inappropriate (CI) anger in the development of emotion knowledge (EK) among a subsample of 4 and 5 year-old preschoolers (n = 74). Measures included parent-reported withdrawn behavior, externalizing behavior, and CI anger, as well as child assessments of receptive language and EK. Ultimately, findings demonstrated that receptive language mediated the relationship between withdrawn behavior and situational EK. However, CI anger significantly interacted with receptive language, and, when incorporated into a second-stage moderated mediation analysis, moderate levels of CI anger rendered the indirect effect of withdrawn behavior on situational EK via receptive language insignificant. Cumulatively, these findings demonstrate a mechanism by which withdrawal may impact EK. They also indicate that such an effect may be attenuated in children with moderate levels of CI anger. Implications of these findings are discussed.
... Based on this model, cognitive ERS are consequently defined as "cognitive responses to emotion-eliciting events that consciously or unconsciously attempt to modify the magnitude and/or type of individuals' emotional experience or the event itself" (Aldao & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2010, p. 974). Whereas various contextual factors like, for instance, intensity of emotions (Barrett et al., 2001;Dixon-Gordon et al., 2015), timing of implementation (Diedrich et al., 2016), perceived controllability of the situation (Troy et al., 2013) as well as the specific emotion to be regulated (Szasz et al., 2011) do have an impact on the adaptivity of different ERS, rumination is primarily thought to be maladaptive in contrast to potentially adaptive self-reflection (Nolen-Hoeksema et al., 2008). In the context of their emotion dysregulation model, Hofmann et al. (2012) assume that specific events trigger negative or positive affect, depending on their habitual tendency to use some ERS over others as well as some sort of diathesis. ...
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Background In order to investigate the relationship between stress-reactive rumination and the implementation of different emotion-regulation strategies (ERS), the pilot study at hand assessed ecological momentary assessment data twice per day from currently depressed patients (n = 21) and healthy controls (n = 23). Methods We analyzed differences in the implementation of ERS (body-based, behavioral, cognitive, social and multiple) and the occurrence of stress, rumination and self-efficacy between the groups as well as associations of ERS implementation at a given time-point and later levels of stress and rumination. Results Overall, patients reported higher subjective stress levels as well as increased ruminative thinking as a response to life stress and, in addition, a more frequent implementation of ERS. Comparing the implementation of ERS, cognitive ERS were implemented most often in the clinical group in comparison to healthy controls. All ERS were associated with increased self-efficacy at the time-point they were implemented. The implementation of cognitive ERS (e.g., reframing) at a given time-point significantly predicted reduced rumination and stress at later time-points. Conclusions Clinical and non-clinical groups seem to differ in their implementation of ERS. While the implementation of all investigated ERS is related to increased coping-efficacy, ERS on a cognitive level seem to be advantageous in reducing stress as well as rumination.
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Background According to more recent approaches on problematic internet use (PIU), using the internet can be seen as a way of compensating for psychosocial malaise. Taking semiotic cultural psychology theory as its theoretical framework, this study examines the role of affect-laden assumptions concerning the world, known as latent dimensions of sense (LDSs), in promoting (or not) adaptive responses, including internet use as a maladaptive strategy against problems and difficulties. Aims To test a theoretical model in which PIU is predicted by LDSs through the mediation of high levels of psychosocial malaise. Method We measured PIU (using the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale 2), LDSs (View of Context questionnaire), negative affect (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule), social anxiety (Interaction Anxiousness Scale) and loneliness (Italian Loneliness Scale) in 764 Italian adolescents (mean age 15.05 years, s.d. = 1.152 years). LDSs were detected using a multiple correspondence analysis; after confirmatory composite analysis, partial least squares structural equation modelling with higher-order components was performed to test the mediation model. Results The results show a relationship between LDSs corresponding to an extreme negative evaluation of the sociocultural context, experienced as absolutely unreliable, and PIU through the mediation of psychosocial malaise (95% CI 0.101– 0.171; P = 0.000). Conclusions Overall, the findings suggest that PIU might be a way of compensating for unpleasant states in a context perceived in an extremely negative and homogenising way, i.e. as totally lacking resources and trustworthy people.
Research has focused on employee emotion regulation as a stable dispositional tendency. Yet effective and healthy emotion regulation requires flexibly choosing between different regulation strategies in response to various workplace situational demands. In this study, we investigate the between- and within-person emotion regulation differences of 83 frontline managers across 10 working days. Using affective events theory, we examine managers’ use of three main emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal, suppression, expression) in response to the negative affect they experience while engaging in various tasks, and the consequences for their daily stress. The moderating effects of four emotional intelligence abilities are also examined. Our results demonstrate negative emotions associated with work tasks are regulated in ways that are determined by stable, situational, and personal factors. Practical implications for organizations are considered. JEL Classification: JEL code - D23
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This investigation examined the influence of emotional attributions on the relevance of current feelings to judgments of personal satisfaction. In the first three studies, subjects were led to make different attributions for their naturally occurring feelings and then asked to judge their personal satisfaction. Satisfaction was higher after situational and specific attributions than after general and self-referential attributions, but only in domains that were unrelated to the causes to which subjects attributed their feelings. Study 4 tested whether affective states such as emotions with clearly defined causes are less relevant to judgments of life satisfaction than more diffuse states such as moods. Satisfaction was elevated after a laboratory mood induction only when subjects were led to focus on their moods in ways characteristic of emotional states (by articulating specific causes and labels for their feelings). These studies illuminate the role of emotional attribution in judgements of personal satisfaction.
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Increasing interest in individual differences related to emotion is evident in the recent appearance of a large number of self-report instruments designed to assess aspects of the feeling experience. In this article, the authors review a sample of 18 of these scales and report technical information on each (e.g., length, format, reliability, construct validity, and correlates). They propose that this domain of individual differences can be usefully structured into five conceptual categories, including measures of absorption, attention, clarity, intensity, and expression. The measures were administered to a sample of individuals, and the coherence of the proposed categories was examined through hierarchical cluster analyses. The results confirmed the proposed structure of this domain of individual difference measures. The authors argue for the usefulness of an individual differences approach to theory testing and specify some of the information-processing roles that might be played by the categories of individual differences found in the data.
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The construct of mood awareness is presented as a form of attention directed toward one's mood states. Two dimensions of mood awareness were investigated through the development and validation of the Mood Awareness Scale. Mood monitoring refers to a tendency to scrutinize and focus on one's moods, whereas mood labeling refers to the ability to identify and categorize one's moods. The role of these two dimensions in self-reported affective experience was explored in four studies using various measures of personality, affect, and mood regulation. Mood monitoring predicted the experience of negative affect, neuroticism, intense affective reactions, and greater rumination on negative mood. Mood labeling predicted the experience of positive affect, extraversion, high self-esteem, and greater satisfaction with social support. The usefulness of these dimensions for predicting affective outcomes is discussed.
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This investigation examined the influence of emotional attributions on the relevance of current feelings to judgments of personal satisfaction. In the first three studies, subjects were led to make different attributions for their naturally occurring feelings and then asked to judge their personal satisfaction. Satisfaction was higher after situational and specific attributions than after general and self-referential attributions, but only in domains that were unrelated to the causes to which subjects attributed their feelings. Study 4 tested whether affective states such as emotions with clearly defined causes are less relevant to judgments of life satisfaction than more diffuse states such as moods. Satisfaction was elevated after a laboratory mood induction only when subjects were led to focus on their moods in ways characteristic of emotional states (by articulating specific causes and labels for their feelings). These studies illuminate the role of emotional attribution in judgments of personal satisfaction.
In recent years, innovative schools have developed courses in what has been termed emotional literacy, emotional intelligence, or emotional competence. This volume evaluates these developments scientifically, pairing the perspectives of psychologists with those of educators who offer valuable commentary on the latest research. It is an authoritative study that describes the scientific basis for our knowledge about emotion as it relates specifically to children, the classroom environment, and emotional literacy. Key topics include: historical perspectives on emotional intelligence neurological bases for emotional development the development of social skills and childhood socialization of emotion. Experts in psychology and education have long viewed thinking and feeling as polar opposites reason on the one hand, and passion on the other. And emotion, often labeled as chaotic, haphazard, and immature, has not traditionally been seen as assisting reason. All that changed in 1990, when Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term emotional intelligence as a challenge to the belief that intelligence is not based on processing emotion-laden information. Salovey and Mayer defined emotional intelligence as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use motivated scientists, educators, parents, and many others to consider the ways in which emotions themselves comprise an intelligent system. With this groundbreaking volume, invited contributors present cutting-edge research on emotions and emotional development in a manner useful to educators, psychologists, and anyone interested in the unfolding of emotions during childhood. In recent years, innovative schools have developed courses in “emotional literacy” that making; these classes teach children how to understand and manage their feelings and how to get along with one another. Many such programs have achieved national prominence, and preliminary scientific evaluations have shown promising results. Until recently, however, there has been little contact between educators developing these types of programs and psychologists studying the neurological underpinnings and development of human emotions. This unique book links theory and practice by juxtaposing scientific explanations of emotion with short commentaries from educators who elaborate on how these advances can be put to use in the classroom. Accessible and enlightening, Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence provides ample evidence about emotional intelligence as well as sound information on the potential efficacy of educational programs based on this idea.
This article presents a framework for emotional intelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one's life. We start by reviewing the debate about the adaptive versus maladaptive qualities of emotion. We then explore the literature on intelligence, and especially social intelligence, to examine the place of emotion in traditional intelligence conceptions. A framework for integrating the research on emotion-related skills is then described. Next, we review the components of emotional intelligence. To conclude the review, the role of emotional intelligence in mental health is discussed and avenues for further investigation are suggested.
Misattributions about the origin of mental experience underlie most memory distortions and the role that emotion plays in such source monitoring errors is a critical theoretical and practical issue. Three experiments explored the impact of the direction and target of listeners’ emotional focus on their subsequent ability to identify the origin of memories for statements they had heard. Participants heard an audio tape (Experiment 1) or watched a video (Experiments 2 and 3) of two people making various statements (e.g.,Halloween is becoming a dangerous holiday). Participants were given tasks that focused them either on how they felt about what was being said or on how they thought the speakers felt. Self-focus resulted in equal or better recognition for the content of the statements than did Other-focus, but poorer identification of the source of the statements (Experiments 1–3). However, the deficit of Self-focus relative to Other-focus was eliminated when participants focused on how they felt about the speakers rather than on how they felt about what was being said (Experiment 3). We suggest that whether emotional focus is likely to produce confusions among external sources of memories depends on whether it reduces the processing that binds content with the kinds of perceptual, contextual, and semantic features of external events that are important cues for source.
This study investigated 3 broad classes of individual-differences variables (job-search motives, competencies, and constraints) as predictors of job-search intensity among 292 unemployed job seekers. Also assessed was the relationship between job-search intensity and reemployment success in a longitudinal context. Results show significant relationships between the predictors employment commitment, financial hardship, job-search self-efficacy, and motivation control and the outcome job-search intensity. Support was not found for a relationship between perceived job-search constraints and job-search intensity. Motivation control was highlighted as the only lagged predictor of job-search intensity over time for those who were continuously unemployed. Job-search intensity predicted Time 2 reemployment status for the sample as a whole, but not reemployment quality for those who found jobs over the study's duration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Addresses criticisms of the authors' previous linking of emotion and intelligence by explaining that many intellectual problems contain emotional information that must be processed. Using P. Salovey and J. D. Mayer's (1990) definition of emotional intelligence as a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking, it is argued that intelligence is an appropriate metaphor for the construct. The abilities and mechanisms that underlie emotional intelligence are described. These mechanisms are (1) emotionality itself, (2) facilitation and inhibition of emotional information flow, and (3) specialized neural mechanisms. Emotionality contributes to specific abilities, and emotional management influences information channels and problem solving. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Quigley and Barrett draw on signal detection theory to explain how primary appraisal patterns, and thus emotional reactivity, are developed and maintained over the life span with little attentional effort. Using the concepts of sensitivity and bias, they suggest that a person's previous learning history can decrease sensitivity to threat cues and/or increase response bias, thereby producing a zero-miss judgment strategy and enhanced emotional responsivity. This can be adaptive or maladaptive, depending on environmental contingencies. It is argued that the zero-miss strategy and the associated emotional consequences are automatically deployed and therefore resistant to change, primarily because of previous emotional learning that is well-entrenched. The authors present evidence from neurobiological and learning studies of emotional conditioning in animals and humans in support of their framework. They suggest that individuals must develop and deploy new judgment strategies in a deliberate fashion to overcome their previous emotional learning history, but only when emotional relearning is targeted and skills for the management of negative affect are taught. They also suggest that psychotherapy is only 1 potential context in which this intentional self-development can take place. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)