Manipulating Personal Relevance and Intensity in Emotion Regulation Research

Maria L. Stoney

Abstract

How do you change how you feel after a negative event? It might depend on how intense the event was or how important you feel it is. In day-to-day life we use emotion regulation strategies to change and control our emotional experience and expression (Gross, 2010), and some research is examining how event characteristics influence the strategies we use.

Previous experimental research found that people chose to use distraction more for high than for low intensity negative images (Sheppes et al., 2014), but a daily diary study found that people favoured rumination following events of higher intensity and importance in day-to-day life (Ortner & Pennekamp, 2018). One explanation for these findings is that the personal relevance of an event, or how important it is to an individual, influences which strategy is used.

Personal relevance and intensity of an event have yet to be studied together in an experimental context. Current methods of manipulating intensity do not control for personal relevance, so we developed three scenarios to manipulate these variables, each with four versions varying in personal relevance (low or high) and intensity (low or high). We will test if high personal relevance scenarios are rated as more personally relevant than low personal relevance scenarios, and if high intensity scenarios are rated as more intense than low intensity scenarios. Future work will use these scenarios to examine how event intensity and personal relevance influence emotion regulation and could help explain why we use maladaptive strategies like rumination.

 
Mar 30th, 10:30 AM Mar 30th, 10:45 AM

Manipulating Personal Relevance and Intensity in Emotion Regulation Research

IB 1010

How do you change how you feel after a negative event? It might depend on how intense the event was or how important you feel it is. In day-to-day life we use emotion regulation strategies to change and control our emotional experience and expression (Gross, 2010), and some research is examining how event characteristics influence the strategies we use.

Previous experimental research found that people chose to use distraction more for high than for low intensity negative images (Sheppes et al., 2014), but a daily diary study found that people favoured rumination following events of higher intensity and importance in day-to-day life (Ortner & Pennekamp, 2018). One explanation for these findings is that the personal relevance of an event, or how important it is to an individual, influences which strategy is used.

Personal relevance and intensity of an event have yet to be studied together in an experimental context. Current methods of manipulating intensity do not control for personal relevance, so we developed three scenarios to manipulate these variables, each with four versions varying in personal relevance (low or high) and intensity (low or high). We will test if high personal relevance scenarios are rated as more personally relevant than low personal relevance scenarios, and if high intensity scenarios are rated as more intense than low intensity scenarios. Future work will use these scenarios to examine how event intensity and personal relevance influence emotion regulation and could help explain why we use maladaptive strategies like rumination.