Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Emotion regulation consists of the skills and cognitive strategies used to alter different aspects of emotion, including the subjective and temporal experience of emotion, outward expression of emotion, the ways in which an emotional experience is interpreted, or the emotion-eliciting stimuli itself. Previous research has identified reappraisal, reframing the perception of an emotion-eliciting event to change the emotional experience, and acceptance, allowing the presence of thoughts following an emotional experience to pass through the mind in a nonjudgmental fashion, as adaptive strategies to use when managing negative emotions. The present study compared the efficacy of reappraisal and acceptance in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety, state anxiety, negative affect, and positive affect over two sessions held four weeks apart. Participants were randomly assigned to learn either strategy (acceptance or reappraisal conditions) or no strategy at all (control condition). All participants then completed an anxiety induction, with those in the acceptance and reappraisal conditions prompted to use the emotion regulation strategy they learned to manage any anxiety they experienced. One month later, all participants were asked to complete additional ratings of generalized anxiety symptomatology over the past two weeks, state anxiety, negative affect, and positive affect. Analyses first explored the full sample of participants. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in ratings among all three conditions, both immediately after the anxiety induction and one month later. Ethnicity and race were not significantly associated with reductions in generalized anxiety symptoms or state anxiety between the acceptance, reappraisal, or control. Results indicated a small association between female participants and clinically significant reductions in state anxiety pre- and post-anxiety induction. Participants were then divided into Low Anxiety (LA) and High Anxiety (HA) groups based on their baseline generalized anxiety symptomatology. Low Anxiety (LA) participants in the reappraisal and acceptance conditions had significantly lower levels of state anxiety than participants the control condition across all time points. High Anxiety (HA) participants in the control condition reported a significant decrease in positive affect between the initial session and the one-month follow-up. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic occurred mid-data collection, necessitating changes in study administration. Research in this area should continue to explore the efficacy of emotion regulation strategies in reducing anxiety in diverse populations, assessing for both mood and self-identified goals as indicators that a strategy is successful.
James, Ciara, "COGNITIVE REAPPRAISAL VS. ACCEPTANCE: A COMPARISON OF EMOTION REGULATION STRATEGIES TO REDUCE ANXIETY" (2022). Open Access Dissertations. Paper 1388.