Emotion regulation: taking stock and moving forward - summary of an article by Gross (2013)

Emotion regulation: taking stock and moving forward
James Gross (2013)
American psychological association


What is emotion regulation?

Emotion regulation require the activation of a goal to up- or down-regulate either the magnitude or duration of the emotional response. 1) Intrinsic emotion regulation is when the goal is activated in oneself 2) extrinsic emotion regulation is when someone else regulates the emotions.

Once a goal to regulate emotion has been activated, many different processes may be recruited.

How do people regulate their emotions?

People try to decrease and increase emotions.

The information-processing model treats each step in the emotion-generative process as a potential target for regulation. Each point represents a family of emotion regulation processes: 1) situation selection 2) situation modification 3) attentional deployment 4) cognitive change 5) response inhibition.

Emotion regulation often alters the context that gave rise to the emotion in the first place.

How cares how people regulate their emotions?

Different forms of emotion regulation have different consequences. They influence the emotion-generative process at different stages.

Suppression is a behaviourally oriented form of emotion regulation. A person decreases emotion-expressive behaviour while emotionally aroused. 1) It leads to decreased positive but not negative emotion experience 2) it leads to worse memory 3) it leads to less liking from partners

Reappraisal  is a cognitively oriented form of emotion regulation. A person tries to think about a situation in a way that alters the emotional response. 1) It leads to decreased levels of negative emotion experience and increase positive emotion experience 2) it has no impact on memory 3) it has no detectible adverse consequences for social affiliation.

How does emotion regulation vary over the life span?

In infancy, extrinsic emotion regulation is initially dominant. In early to middle childhood, advances in linguistic, cognitive, and motor abilities enable additional emotion regulation capabilities. In adolescence, the maturation of prefrontal regions enables important new cognitive forms of emotion regulation.

Do individual differences in emotion regulation matter?

People who use suppression frequently experience less positive emotion and more negative emotion. They have worse memory for emotional interactions.

People who use reappraisal frequently experience and express more positive emotion and less negative emotion. They have normal or enhanced memory. They have more positive interactions with others.

How can we explain emotion regulation failure and emotion misregulation?

To regulate emotion, one must accurately track ongoing emotional responses either explicitly or implicitly. Failures at this stage may arise from simple tracking failures.

Once an emotion goal has been activated, many different strategies may be selected to achieve that goal, some of which may be more appropriate than others. Context-specific factors play a role.

Even after activating a potentially appropriate strategy, success is by no means assured. Successful execution requires that the goal to regulate a particular emotion is a particular way. To be shielded from other competing goals and to be maintained and then flexibly adjusted if circumstances change

What is the link between emotion regulation and psychopathology?

Many mental disorders are thought to involve emotion dysregulation. Some are defined by it.

Can emotion regulation affect physical health?

Our emotional responses can influence our physical health. Heightened levels of negative emotion predict worse cardiovascular disease.

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