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Emotion Differentiation as Resilience Against Excessive Alcohol Use: An Ecological Momentary Assessment in Underage Social Drinkers

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Some people are adept at using discrete emotion categories (anxious, angry, sad) to capture their felt experience; other people merely communicate how good or bad they feel. We theorized that people who are better at describing their emotions might be less likely to self-medicate with alcohol. During a 3-week period, 106 underage social drinkers used handheld computers to self-monitor alcohol intake. From participants' reported experiences during random prompts, we created an individual difference measure of emotion differentiation. Results from a 30-day timeline follow-back revealed that people with intense negative emotions consumed less alcohol if they were better at describing emotions and less reliant on global descriptions. Results from ecological momentary assessment procedures revealed that people with intense negative emotions prior to drinking episodes consumed less alcohol if they were better at describing emotions. These findings provide support for a novel methodology and dimension for understanding the influence of emotions on substance-use patterns.
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... by Barrett et al. (2001), emotion differentiation -an individual difference in the ability to distinguish among discrete emotions (Barrett et al., 2001;Demiralp et al., 2012;Seo & Barrett, 2007) -has been associated with a multitude of beneficial psychological and behavioral outcomes, including enhanced decision making (Li & Ashkanasy, 2019), social adjustment (Smidt & Suvak, 2015), psychological adjustment (e.g. less drug abuse), and emotion regulation (Kashdan, Barrett, & McKnight, 2015;Kashdan, Ferssizidis, Collins, & Muraven, 2010). For example, individuals who are high in emotion differentiation are less likely to turn to alcohol abuse (Kashdan et al., 2010) or utilize aggression in coping with anger (Pond et al., 2012). ...
... by Barrett et al. (2001), emotion differentiation -an individual difference in the ability to distinguish among discrete emotions (Barrett et al., 2001;Demiralp et al., 2012;Seo & Barrett, 2007) -has been associated with a multitude of beneficial psychological and behavioral outcomes, including enhanced decision making (Li & Ashkanasy, 2019), social adjustment (Smidt & Suvak, 2015), psychological adjustment (e.g. less drug abuse), and emotion regulation (Kashdan, Barrett, & McKnight, 2015;Kashdan, Ferssizidis, Collins, & Muraven, 2010). For example, individuals who are high in emotion differentiation are less likely to turn to alcohol abuse (Kashdan et al., 2010) or utilize aggression in coping with anger (Pond et al., 2012). ...
... First, it contributes to the emotion differentiation literature by bringing in morality as a relevant dimension of emotion that can be distinguished from other types of negative emotions. Existing negative emotion differentiation studies only look at how individuals differentiate valence and activation of emotions (Barrett et al., 2001;Kashdan et al., 2015Kashdan et al., , 2010Pond et al., 2012;Seo & Barrett, 2007;Smidt & Suvak, 2015), while ignoring another important aspect of emotions -the extent to which they relate to others' welfare. Moral emotions and hedonic emotions have different behavioral tendencies, even when they are both negative (Haidt, 2003), making emotion differentiation of particular importance to individuals and organizations (cf. ...
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Past research has documented the many psychological and behavioral benefits of negative emotion differentiation, that is, the degree to which one can identify, distinguish, and describe specific negative feeling states. Drawing on Affective Events Theory, we argue that negative emotion differentiation affects how individuals react to a need-laden affective event (i.e., being in a situation where one is asked for some assistance). Specifically, we posit that individuals high in negative emotion differentiation will be more adept at interpreting their negative emotions as arising from others' needs (i.e., moral emotions) and regulating them through helping behavior. We tested this basic premise in two studies conducted in East Asia – a field study involving working adults in a general work setting and a quasi-experiment involving a student sample. In both studies, we examined the role of negative emotion differentiation in how individuals respond to negative emotions facing a need-laden affective event. The results supported our predictions, as high negative emotion differentiation weakened the negative relationship between general negative emotions and subsequent helping behavior (Study 1) and strengthened the positive relationship between negative moral emotions and helping behavior (Study 2). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... Thus, if a person is not able to de-termine what emotion they are feeling, their ability to effectively problem solve to manage that emotion will be diminished. Given mood repair is often prioritized over achieving other more adaptive long-term goals (e.g., remaining abstinent; Tice et al., 2001), this commonly leads to "quick-fix" behaviors aimed at alleviating affective arousal such as risky alcohol use (Kashdan et al., 2010), nonsuicidal self-injury (Zaki et al., 2013), and physical/verbal aggression (Pond et al., 2012). ...
... These were aggregated into person-level averages for each participant and used as a measure of their average level of positive and negative affect (i.e., trait). Previous research supports the criterion validity of these affective items assessed using EMA Hoeppner et al., 2014;Kashdan et al., 2010;Muraven et al., 2005). ...
... Traditionally, emotion differentiation is created as a betweenperson variable from EMA data by calculating the intraclass correlation (ICC with absolute agreement) of the positive and negative emotion terms, respectively, for each participant across the momentary assessments (Kashdan et al., 2010;Pond et al., 2012). This calculates the percent of the total variation in emotion ratings due to variation across assessment time points versus variability between emotion terms within time points. ...
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Background: Early recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) is commonly associated with high levels of negative affect, stress, and emotional vulnerability, which confer significant relapse risk. Emotion differentiation-the ability to distinguish between discrete emotions-has been shown to predict relapse after treatment for a drug use disorder, but this relationship has not been explored in individuals recovering from AUD. Methods: The current study used thrice daily random and up to thrice daily self-initiated ecological momentary assessment surveys (N = 42, observations = 915) to examine whether 1) moments of high affective arousal are characterized by momentary differences in emotion differentiation among individuals in the first year of a current AUD recovery attempt, and 2) individuals' average emotion differentiation would predict subsequent alcohol use measured by the timeline follow-back over a 3-month follow-up period. Results: Multilevel models showed that moments (Level 1) of higher-than-average negative affect (p < 0.001) and/or stress (p = 0.033) were characterized by less negative emotion differentiation, while moments of higher-than-average positive affect were characterized by greater positive emotion differentiation (p < 0.001). At the between-person level (Level 2), participants with higher stress overall had lower negative emotion differentiation (p = 0.009). Linear regression showed that average negative, but not positive, emotion differentiation was inversely associated with percent drinking days over the subsequent 3-month follow-up period (p = 0.042). Neither form of average emotion differentiation was associated with drinking quantity. Conclusions: We found that for individuals in early AUD recovery, affective states are associated with acute shifts in the capacity for emotion differentiation. Further, we found that average negative emotion differentiation prospectively predicts subsequent alcohol use.
... 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). Research also demonstrates negative emotion differentiation being a factor moderating EMOTION DIFFERENTIATION AND OPTIMISM 5 the association of emotionality to internalized and externalized symptoms. ...
... For example, a study found that low negative emotion differentiation (NED) predicted a stronger association between daily negative emotional experiences and depressive symptoms in veterans recruited from a primary care setting; low NED also predicted a stronger association between daily brooding and depression symptoms in both young adults and veteran samples (Starr, Hershenberg, Li, & Shaw, 2017). Likewise, a study reported that underage (18-20 year old) social drinkers with intense negative emotions reported less alcohol if they were better at describing emotions in a distinct, nuanced way (Kashdan, Ferssizidis, Collins, & Muraven, 2010). Greater NED was associated with less use of disengagement strategies (e.g., substance use) to cope with stressful events; however, NED was not correlated with engagement regulation strategies (e.g., problem-solving), nor moderated the association between stress and engagement regulation strategies (Brown et al., 2021). ...
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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.
... Correspondingly, the higher emotional granularity for negative words has been positively associated with healthy and adaptive behaviors such as the use and efficacy (Barrett et al., 2001;Kalokerinos et al., 2019) of emotional regulation strategies. Also, emotional granularity has been negatively related to depressive and social anxiety symptomatology, and it has been suggested as a correlate of resilience against the development of psychological disorders Kashdan et al., 2010;Demiralp et al., 2012; see also Erbas et al., 2014;Kashdan and Farmer, 2014). Here, we observed a positive association between Sensibility scores and well-being and adaptability scores, thereby providing further evidence for the association between correlates of conceptualization and wellbeing and adaptability. ...
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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.
... Low resilience levels may, thus, result in increased ineffective coping skills, such as increased alcohol use, to manage stressors [26]. Accordingly, negative associations exist for alcohol use and resilience levels [27], and the ability to describe negative emotions (a mental resilience characteristic) is associated with decreases in alcohol consumption [28]. ...
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Extensive research exists on relationships between psychological constructs and alcohol consumption. However, research on relationships with hangover severity remains limited. This study aimed to assess the associations between mental resilience, mood (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress), coping, personality, and hangover severity. A total of N = 690 participants completed an online survey by answering questions regarding their demographics, alcohol use, hangover prevalence and severity, and several psychological assessments (Brief Resilience Scale, DASS-21, Brief Cope, and Brief Version of the Big Five Personality Inventory). Significant associations were found between hangover severity and mental resilience, mood, and avoidant coping. Higher levels of mental resilience were associated with less severe hangovers, whereas poorer mood was associated with more severe hangovers. No significant associations were found with personality traits. These findings demonstrate that several associations between psychological constructs and hangover severity exist and suggest a role of psychological factors in the pathology of the alcohol hangover. As our findings contrast with the results of previous studies that did not report an association between mental resilience and the presence and severity of hangovers, further research is warranted.
... Also, emotion differentiation induces greater self-control, especially in adverse situations. Evidence suggests that people high on EC can effectively control their alcohol consumption and negative emotions (Kashdan et al., 2010a). They tend to use many regulation strategies to minimize negative emotions Kang & Shaver, 2004). ...
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Foreword James S. Grotstein Acknowledgements Introduction Graeme Taylor 1. The development and regulation of affects Graeme Taylor, Michael Bagby and James Parker 2. Affect dysregulation and alexithymia Michael Bagby and Graeme Taylor 3. Measurement and validation of the alexithymia construct Michael Bagby and Graeme Taylor 4. Relations between alexithymia, personality, and affects James Parker and Graeme Taylor 5. The neurobiology of emotion, affect regulation and alexithymia James Parker and Graeme Taylor 6. Somatoform disorders Graeme Taylor 7. Anxiety and depressive disorders and a note on personality disorders Michael Bagby and Graeme Taylor 8. Substance use disorders Graeme Taylor 9. Eating disorders Graeme Taylor 10. Affects and alexithymia in medical illness and disease Graeme Taylor 11. Treatment considerations Graeme Taylor 12. Future directions James Parker, Michael Bagby and Graeme Taylor References Index.
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An intelligence must meet several standard criteria before it can be considered scientifically legitimate. First, it should be capable of being operationalized as a set of abilities. Second, it should meet certain correlational criteria: the abilities defined by the intelligence should form a related set (i.e., be intercorrelated), and be related to pre-existing intelligences, while also showing some unique variance. Third, the abilities of the intelligence should develop with age and experience. In two studies, adults (N=503) and adolescents (N=229) took a new, 12-subscale ability test of emotional intelligence: the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS). The present studies show that emotional intelligence, as measured by the MEIS, meets the above three classical criteria of a standard intelligence.
Research from numerous corners of psychological inquiry suggests that self-assessments of skill and character are often flawed in substantive and systematic ways. We review empirical findings on the imperfect nature of self-assessment and discuss implications for three real-world domains: health, education, and the workplace. In general, people's self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance. The correlation between self-ratings of skill and actual performance in many domains is moderate to meager—indeed, at times, other people's predictions of a person's outcomes prove more accurate than that person's self-predictions. In addition, people overrate themselves. On average, people say that they are “above average” in skill (a conclusion that defies statistical possibility), overestimate the likelihood that they will engage in desirable behaviors and achieve favorable outcomes, furnish overly optimistic estimates of when they will complete future projects, and reach judgments with too much confidence. Several psychological processes conspire to produce flawed self-assessments. Research focusing on health echoes these findings. People are unrealistically optimistic about their own health risks compared with those of other people. They also overestimate how distinctive their opinions and preferences (e.g., discomfort with alcohol) are among their peers—a misperception that can have a deleterious impact on their health. Unable to anticipate how they would respond to emotion-laden situations, they mispredict the preferences of patients when asked to step in and make treatment decisions for them. Guided by mistaken but seemingly plausible theories of health and disease, people misdiagnose themselves—a phenomenon that can have severe consequences for their health and longevity. Similarly, research in education finds that students' assessments of their performance tend to agree only moderately with those of their teachers and mentors. Students seem largely unable to assess how well or poorly they have comprehended material they have just read. They also tend to be overconfident in newly learned skills, at times because the common educational practice of massed training appears to promote rapid acquisition of skill—as well as self-confidence—but not necessarily the retention of skill. Several interventions, however, can be introduced to prompt students to evaluate their skill and learning more accurately. In the workplace, flawed self-assessments arise all the way up the corporate ladder. Employees tend to overestimate their skill, making it difficult to give meaningful feedback. CEOs also display overconfidence in their judgments, particularly when stepping into new markets or novel projects—for example, proposing acquisitions that hurt, rather then help, the price of their company's stock. We discuss several interventions aimed at circumventing the consequences of such flawed assessments; these include training people to routinely make cognitive repairs correcting for biased self-assessments and requiring people to justify their decisions in front of their peers. The act of self-assessment is an intrinsically difficult task, and we enumerate several obstacles that prevent people from reaching truthful self-impressions. We also propose that researchers and practitioners should recognize self-assessment as a coherent and unified area of study spanning many subdisciplines of psychology and beyond. Finally, we suggest that policymakers and other people who makes real-world assessments should be wary of self-assessments of skill, expertise, and knowledge, and should consider ways of repairing self-assessments that may be flawed.
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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)
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The objective of the present study was to examine the interrelationships between neuroticism, alexithymia, negative and positive affect, and medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). To this end 377 subjects, presenting to their primary care physician with MUS, filled out a questionnaire consisting of 45 non-gender-specific symptoms, the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the NEO Five Factor Inventory, the Symptom Checklist, and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. To determine main effects, moderator effects and mediator effects of the independent variables on MUS, path models were constructed on the basis of multiple regression analyses. Once the dimensions of negative and positive affect were accounted for, neuroticism and general alexithymia no longer exerted a significant direct effect on MUS. Instead, their effect became indirect, mediated through negative affect (neuroticism), and positive affect (neuroticism and general alexithymia). In contrast with general alexithymia, the difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF) dimension of alexithymia had a significant direct effect on MUS. The present findings support the notion that the DIF dimension of alexithymia may be a more specific predictor of MUS than general alexithymia. The potentially important role of positive affect is also pointed out. Both dimensions deserve more attention in future research on somatization.