Keep Calm and Carry On: Mood Effects on Emotion Regulation Strategies

Students: Elsa Mastico (School of Graduate Studies), Monica Sewell

Mentor: Ralf Greenwald

Abstract

Emotion regulation is a phrase used to describe individual’s ability to efficiently calm themselves down when faced with distressing stimuli. Two frequently studied strategies are reappraisal (reassessing a situation as something positive) and distraction (thinking unrelated positive thoughts in order to remain calm). Past research has shown that these two strategies are so effective that they can even be seen in recorded brainwaves using an electroencephalogram (EEG). In order to add to the previous literature, the current research looked at daily mood as another potential external factor that may influence the efficiency of reappraisal and distraction. The brainwaves from a negative stimulus analysis task of twenty-five undergraduate participants from Central Washington University were analyzed and compared to self-report data on their current mood and prior knowledge/practice of utilizing these strategies. The researchers hypothesized that individuals who reported to be in a particularly pleasant mood would show greater efficiency in their reappraisal task. For distraction, the researchers hypothesized that individuals would be able to distract themselves regardless of mood. Primary results indicated that most of the participants were in a pleasant mood, so statistically overall mood had no effect on reappraisal (F(2,22)=.678, p=.518) or distraction (F(2,22)=.193, p=.892). There was however a significant difference in participants overall ability to distract vs. reappraise (t(24) = 2.156, p<.05) indicating that even though mood may not influence individual’s ability to reappraise or distract, distraction may still serve as a more efficient way to regulate emotions overall.

Presentation

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