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


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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    • "A study comparing distressed and healthy adolescents found no differences across groups in positive re-appraisals of stressors (Ebata and Moos 1991). Relatedly, one study reported that cumulative stress was unrelated to the positive reappraisal of sad stimuli among adult women (Troy et al. 2010). There is some research to suggest dispositional self-efficacy drives positive appraisal (Jerusalem and Schwarzer 1992), and conjecture that individuals high in temperamental positive emotionality or positive affect might demonstrate consistently high levels of positive appraisal (Folkman 2008; Lengua and Long 2002). "
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    • "Specifically, we demonstrated that more religious individuals are more effective at regulating their emotions using cognitive reappraisal. Cognitive reappraisal has been associated with a range of benefits , including more positive affect (McRae et al., 2012), less negative affect (Denny & Ochsner, 2014; Gross, 1998; McRae et al., 2012; but see Sheppes & Meiran, 2007) and greater mental health and well-being (Denny & Ochsner, 2014; Troy, Wilhelm, Shallcross, & Mauss, 2010). If religiosity is associated with more frequent and effective cognitive reappraisal, this could lead to more adaptive outcomes, including more adaptive emotional experiences and greater well-being. "
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    • "Studies have examined the beneficial effects of cognitive reappraisal on self-reported symptoms (e.g., Garnefski and Kraaij 2006), yet have not examined these tendencies in combination with measures of emotional reactivity. Cognitive reappraisal may be particularly important during times of stress, yet little research examines the effects of cognitive reappraisal in paradigms that include a stressor (Hofmann et al. 2009; Troy et al. 2010) to examine whether the tendency to reappraise modulates the effects of emotionality on symptom presentation. Indeed, in their call to advance the field of affective science , Tracy et al. (2014) suggest that research should employ multiple measures of emotional reactivity, focus on the time course of emotional response including rise and return to baseline, assess multiple types of emotion regulation , distinguish between reactivity and regulation, and elucidate disorder-specific patterns of emotional processes. "
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