Academic journal article Journal of Psychological and Educational Research

Predicting Positive and Negative Affect Based on Emotion and Thought Regulation Strategies

Academic journal article Journal of Psychological and Educational Research

Predicting Positive and Negative Affect Based on Emotion and Thought Regulation Strategies

Article excerpt

Introduction

Intense and negative emotional reactions, including unwanted thoughts are common in the aftermath of stressful or traumatic life events (Vanderhasselt, Koster, Onraedt, Bruyneel, Goubert, & De Raedt, 2014). When confronted with such situations, peoples use consciously or unconsciously different regulation strategies to modulate their emotions and thoughts in order to respond appropriately to environmental demands (Campbell-Sills & Barlow, 2007). Although these strategies vary according to particular situational demands (e.g., Aldao & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2012a), there is empirical evidence that there are relatively stable individual differences in the way people use emotion and thought regulation strategies (Liu, Prati, Perrewe, & Brymer, 2010; McRae, Jacobs, Ray, John, & Gross, 2012). Moreover, previous studies documented that these individual differences have substantial implications when it comes to mental health and wellbeing (Badour & Feldner, 2013; McRae et al., 2012; Moore, Zoellner, & Mollenholt, 2008; Shepherd & Wild, 2014). On the other hand, ineffective emotion and thought regulation strategies play an important role in the development and maintenance of different mental disorders (Aldao & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2012b; Beblo, Fernando, Klocke, Griepenstroh, Aschenbrenner, & Driessen, 2012). In this study, we focused on the relation between two emotion and thought regulation strategies and people's current emotional experience. Specifically, our aim in this research was to study the consequences of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression of emotions and thoughts on one's affective state after experimental exposure to a traumatic life event.

Positive and negative affect

Affect is a general term which representes a positive or negative subjective experience occurring at a given moment in time, and it is often conceptualized as varying along two dimensions, depending on positive and negative emotional activation (Tellegen, Walson, & Clark, 1999; Wyer, Clore, & Isbell, 1999). Negative affect (NA) includes symptoms of anxiety and depression, while cheerfulness and joy represent examples of a positive affect (PA) (Pressman & Cohen, 2005). Although PA and NA were initially regarded as relatively independent constructs, other authors sustain that these two affective states can co-occur at the same time within an individual (Larsen, McGraw, & Cacioppo, 2001). Because these dimensions are independent, an individual can be high on both, low on both or high on one and low on the other (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). According to this perspective, if a person tends to experience negative moods, he/she can still experience positive moods (or vice versa). A theoretical framework that offers some insight about the relationship between these two affective states was offered by the broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008). According to this theory, positive emotions share the ability to expand one's attention, cognition and behavioural repertoires (Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002; Gasper & Clore, 2002; Johnson & Fredrickson, 2005). Moreover, positive emotions play an important role in the regulation of negative emotions (Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004) and buffer the aversive effects of stress (Folkman, 2008). In other words, they function as efficient antidotes for the lingering effects of negative emotions (Fredrickson, Mancuso, Branigan, & Tugade, 2000). Not only do positive emotions make people feel good in the present, but positive emotions also increase the likelihood that people will feel good in the future (Fredrickson, 2001). Moreover, even short-lived positive emotions may have long-term positive effects by enhancing physical, psychological, cognitive and social resources (Cohn, Fredrickson, Brown, Mikels, & Conway, 2009; Johnson, Hobfoll, Hall, Canetti-Nisim, Galea, & Palmieri, 2007). Therefore, it is important to understand which factors predict positive affects when confronted with stressful experiences. …

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