Presentation Title

Benefits of Combining Distraction and Reappraisal in the Face of an Anger-Inducing Event

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Research evidence on emotion regulation has indicated that reappraisal, the process of rethinking an event so that the emotional impact is reduced, is a more effective long-term strategy for reducing anger than distraction, the process of diverting one’s attention from an emotional event. However, the efficacy of combining these strategies has not been tested. In the present study, participants recall an anger-inducing interpersonal event and employ one of three emotion regulation approaches: distraction, reappraisal, or distraction followed by reappraisal. We will compare the long-term effects of these three approaches on reducing anger by measuring anger pre-emotion regulation, post emotion regulation, and post re-exposure to the anger-eliciting event. We expect that participants who solely distract will experience immediate decreases in anger, but a return to initial levels upon re-exposure to the anger-eliciting event, while participants who solely reappraise will experience a more gradual decrease in anger over time. We also predict that participants who distract and then reappraise will experience the greatest long-term decreases in anger following re-exposure to the event. The findings of the current study will allow for a better understanding of the efficacy of the different ways we control our emotions.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Catherine Ortner

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Benefits of Combining Distraction and Reappraisal in the Face of an Anger-Inducing Event

Research evidence on emotion regulation has indicated that reappraisal, the process of rethinking an event so that the emotional impact is reduced, is a more effective long-term strategy for reducing anger than distraction, the process of diverting one’s attention from an emotional event. However, the efficacy of combining these strategies has not been tested. In the present study, participants recall an anger-inducing interpersonal event and employ one of three emotion regulation approaches: distraction, reappraisal, or distraction followed by reappraisal. We will compare the long-term effects of these three approaches on reducing anger by measuring anger pre-emotion regulation, post emotion regulation, and post re-exposure to the anger-eliciting event. We expect that participants who solely distract will experience immediate decreases in anger, but a return to initial levels upon re-exposure to the anger-eliciting event, while participants who solely reappraise will experience a more gradual decrease in anger over time. We also predict that participants who distract and then reappraise will experience the greatest long-term decreases in anger following re-exposure to the event. The findings of the current study will allow for a better understanding of the efficacy of the different ways we control our emotions.