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The Role of Positive Emotions in Facilitating the Regulation of Emotion in Response to Negative Stressors

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The consequences of negative emotions on mental and physical health can be harmful, especially if action is not taken to reduce the strength, duration or frequency of their occurrence. Positive emotions have been shown to be effective in regulating the subjective and physiological experience of negative emotion. However, less is known about how positive emotions achieve these emotion regulatory outcomes. Positive emotions have also been shown to broaden cognition and expand attention. Cognitively-focused regulation strategies, such as reappraisal and adaptive self-reflection, are effective in regulating emotion and require a number of cognitive resources. Therefore, we hypothesized that positive emotions, and the resulting broadened cognition, regulate emotion by facilitating or inducing reappraisal and adaptive self-reflection following a stressful experience. To induce a stressful experience, participants were led to believe that they failed at an anagram-solving task. Next, participants were asked to regulate their emotion using reappraisal or reflection while they watched a positive video or a neutral video. The emotional experience of each participant was measured using self-reported emotion ratings, skin conductance levels, corrugator activity, and orbicularis activity. Results suggest that positive emotions induced emotion regulation among individuals who reflected about the failure task. However, positive emotions did not facilitate emotion regulation among individuals who reappraised the failure task. These findings suggest that one way positive emotions regulate emotion is by prompting adaptive self-reflection when individuals are thinking about a stressful experience.
cognitive reappraisal
emotion regulation
positive emotions
Major, Brett Charles (author)
Waugh, Christian E (committee chair)
Jennings, Janine M (committee member)
Masicampo, E.J. (committee member)
Rejeski, W. Jack (committee member)
2013-06-06T21:19:38Z (accessioned)
2015-06-06T08:30:09Z (available)
2013 (issued)
Psychology (discipline)
2015-06-06 (terms)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/38571 (uri)
en (iso)
Wake Forest University
The Role of Positive Emotions in Facilitating the Regulation of Emotion in Response to Negative Stressors

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