Navigation Links
Keeping emotions in check may not always benefit psychological health

Being able to regulate your emotions is important for well-being, but new research suggests that a common emotion regulation strategy called "cognitive reappraisal" may actually be harmful when it comes to stressors that are under our control. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"Context is important," says psychological scientist and lead researcher Allison Troy of Franklin & Marshall College. "Our research is among the first to suggest that cognitive reappraisal may actually have negative effects on psychological health in certain contexts."

Previous research has shown that cognitive reappraisal a strategy that involves reframing one's thoughts about a given situation in order to change its emotional impact is especially beneficial for the psychological health of people who are highly stressed. But, as Troy and colleagues discovered, the controllability of a given situation seems to be the key in determining whether cognitive reappraisal helps or hurts:

"For someone facing a stressful situation in which they have little control, such as a loved one's illness, the ability to use reappraisal should be extremely helpful changing emotions may be one of the only things that he or she can exert some control over to try to cope," Troy notes.

"But for someone experiencing trouble at work because of poor performance, for example, reappraisal might not be so adaptive. Reframing the situation to make it seem less negative may make that person less inclined to attempt to change the situation."

For their study, the researchers recruited a community sample of people who had recently experienced a stressful life event. The participants took an online survey aimed to measure their levels of depression and life stress. About one week later, they came to the lab to take part in a challenge designed to measure their cognitive reappraisal ability.

The participants first watched a neutral film clip intended to induce a neutral emotional baseline, and then watched three sad film clips. During these clips, they were randomly assigned to use cognitive reappraisal strategies to think about the situation they were watching "in a more positive light."

The results showed that the ability to regulate sadness was associated with fewer reported symptoms of depression, but only for participants whose stress was uncontrollable those with an ailing spouse, for instance. For participants with more controllable stress, being better at reappraisal was actually associated with more depressive symptoms.

"When stressors are controllable, it seems that cognitive reappraisal ability isn't just less beneficial, it may be harmful," explains Troy.

These findings add a wrinkle to the existing research, which has consistently shown that reappraisal is linked with positive outcomes.

"These results suggest that no emotion regulation strategy is always adaptive," says Troy. "Adaptive emotion regulation likely involves the ability to use a wide variety of strategies in different contexts, rather than relying on just one strategy in all contexts."

These findings have implications for public health, given that stress and impairments in the ability to cope with it are important predictors of psychological health problems. The findings also have important implications for clinicians, given that many existing forms of therapy focus on using cognitive reappraisal as a way of strengthening emotion regulation:

"Our results suggest that therapeutic interventions that seek to improve emotion regulation ability and teach clients to use particular strategies in context appropriate ways would be particularly beneficial," says Troy. "It may be, for instance, that more active strategies like problem-solving and seeking social support could be particularly beneficial in more controllable contexts."

The researchers plan on expanding their person-by-situation approach to the study of other emotion regulation strategies like acceptance, distraction, and suppression.


Contact: Anna Mikulak
Association for Psychological Science

Related medicine news :

1. Coordinating the circadian clock: Molecular pair controls time-keeping and fat metabolism
2. Keeping Your Family Safe From Dog Bites
3. Keeping Kids Safe on Roller Coasters and Other Thrill Rides
4. Lipid helps cells find their way by keeping their antennae up
5. Keeping the faith through souvenirs
6. Keeping Up a Healthy Lifestyle Pays Off in Added Years: Study
7. Tips on Keeping Food Safe When the Power Goes Out
8. Care2Learn/Upstairs Solutions and Jarlette Health Services Sign Multi-Year Contract for Online Training and Record-Keeping
9. Keeping Sexuality Secret Takes Mental Toll on Bisexual Men
10. Dog Days of Winter: Keeping Pets Safe, Warm
11. Keeping Fit May Boost Survival With Endometrial Cancer
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, ... the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where ... city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Experts from the American Institutes for Research ... June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. , AIR experts ... planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR researchers will be ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong ... Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. ... to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may suffer from a ... such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To avoid this pain ... following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a range of emotions, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of ... AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Research and ... Market for Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... for Companion Diagnostics The World Market for ... personalized medicine diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes the ... Market (In Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Belgium , June 24, 2016 ... today announced the appointment of Dr. Edward ... as a Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. ... Compensation and Nominations and Governance Committees.  As a ... will provide independent expertise and strategic counsel to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... for the patients with kidney failure, it replaces the function ... the patient,s blood and thus the treatment helps to keep ... in balance. Increasing number of ESRD patients ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: