The regulation of negative and positive affect in daily life

Emotion. 2013 Oct;13(5):926-39. doi: 10.1037/a0032400. Epub 2013 Jun 3.


Emotion regulation has primarily been studied either experimentally or by using retrospective trait questionnaires. Very few studies have investigated emotion regulation in the context in which it is usually deployed, namely, the complexity of everyday life. We address this in the current paper by reporting findings of two experience-sampling studies (Ns = 46 and 95) investigating the use of six emotion-regulation strategies (reflection, reappraisal, rumination, distraction, expressive suppression, and social sharing) and their associations with changes in positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) in daily life. Regarding the relative use of emotion-regulation strategies, a highly similar ordering was found across both studies with distraction being used more than sharing and reappraisal. While the use of all six strategies was positively correlated both within- and between-persons, different strategies were associated with distinct affective consequences: Suppression and rumination were associated with increases in NA and decreases in PA, whereas reflection was associated with increases in PA across both studies. Additionally, reappraisal, distraction, and social sharing were related to increases in PA in Study 2. Discussion focuses on how the current findings fit with theoretical models of emotion regulation and with previous evidence from experimental and retrospective studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Awareness
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking