Event Title

Regulating anger experience: The benefits of distraction over rumination, acceptance, and reappraisal

Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

30-4-2015 2:00 PM

End Date

30-4-2015 3:55 PM

Project Type

Poster

Description

When the memory of an emotional event is triggered, individuals employ different cognitive strategies to regulate their emotional response. Despite the importance of emotion regulation skills to healthy psychological functioning, there are relatively few studies that directly compare, in a controlled laboratory setting, the effectiveness of common regulation strategies in reducing anger and hostility. Rumination has been associated with increased negative affect and aggression, while reappraisal and distraction can reduce anger. These strategies have not previously been compared to acceptance of emotion as a distinct approach to anger regulation. The present study examined the effectiveness of five strategies rumination, distraction, reappraisal, acceptance, and spontaneous regulation (control condition) in regulating anger provoked by an interpersonal experience. Participants (N=130) recalled a recent anger-inducing memory and then were instructed to engage in one of five regulation strategies. Distraction facilitated the greatest reductions in hostility, F(10.78, 334.01) = 3.18, p < 0.001, and sadness, F(11.36, 352.21) = 2.03, p = 0.02. Acceptance of emotion was least effective in reducing anger while rumination increased sadness. The results remained significant when controlling for trait rumination, reappraisal, and avoidance of emotion. The findings support selective use of distraction to de-escalate anger and aggression and caution the use of acceptance interventions when targeting anger rather than other negative affect states, such as sadness and anxiety.

Faculty Sponsor

Erin Sheets

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Psychology Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1410

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Apr 30th, 2:00 PM Apr 30th, 3:55 PM

Regulating anger experience: The benefits of distraction over rumination, acceptance, and reappraisal

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

When the memory of an emotional event is triggered, individuals employ different cognitive strategies to regulate their emotional response. Despite the importance of emotion regulation skills to healthy psychological functioning, there are relatively few studies that directly compare, in a controlled laboratory setting, the effectiveness of common regulation strategies in reducing anger and hostility. Rumination has been associated with increased negative affect and aggression, while reappraisal and distraction can reduce anger. These strategies have not previously been compared to acceptance of emotion as a distinct approach to anger regulation. The present study examined the effectiveness of five strategies rumination, distraction, reappraisal, acceptance, and spontaneous regulation (control condition) in regulating anger provoked by an interpersonal experience. Participants (N=130) recalled a recent anger-inducing memory and then were instructed to engage in one of five regulation strategies. Distraction facilitated the greatest reductions in hostility, F(10.78, 334.01) = 3.18, p < 0.001, and sadness, F(11.36, 352.21) = 2.03, p = 0.02. Acceptance of emotion was least effective in reducing anger while rumination increased sadness. The results remained significant when controlling for trait rumination, reappraisal, and avoidance of emotion. The findings support selective use of distraction to de-escalate anger and aggression and caution the use of acceptance interventions when targeting anger rather than other negative affect states, such as sadness and anxiety.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/54