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, 8 (1), 5411

Emotion Regulation Compensation Following Situation Selection Failure

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Emotion Regulation Compensation Following Situation Selection Failure

Lara Vujović et al. Sci Rep.

Abstract

We conducted two within-subjects experiments to determine whether people use alternative emotion regulation (ER) strategies to compensate for failure of situation selection, a form of ER in which one chooses situations based on the emotions those situations afford. Participants viewed negative and neutral (Study 1, N = 58) or negative, neutral, and positive pictures (Study 2, N = 90). They indicated for each picture whether they wanted to terminate presentation (Study 1) or view it again (Study 2). We manipulated the outcome of this decision to be congruent with participants' wishes (success) or not (failure), and measured self-reported ER strategies and emotional responses. Although participants terminated negative situations more often than neutral situations (Study 1), or chose to view positive pictures more frequently than neutral, and neutral more frequently than negative (Study 2), there was little evidence of compensation in the wake of situation selection failure. Overall, we conclude that although people choose situations based on affect (i.e., attempt to end or avoid high-arousal negative situations and pursue high-arousal pleasant ones), they do not generally use the alternative ER strategies that we assessed (rumination, reappraisal, distraction) to compensate when the situations they select fail to materialize in this experimental context.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Trial structure for the picture task in Study 1. Whereas we used IAPS pictures for this task, the example picture in this figure is from one of the author’s private collection.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Trial structure for the picture task in Study 2. Whereas we used IAPS pictures for this task, the example picture in this figure is from one author’s private collection.
Figure 3
Figure 3
(a) Estimated mean number of alternative ER strategies (and 95% CI) on failure and success trials, for positive, neutral, and negative pictures in Study 2. Proportion of Study 2 trials (and 95% CI) on which participants reported at least one ER strategy compared to no ER strategies at all (b), rumination (c), distraction (d), reappraisal (e), or other strategies (f) on failure and success trials, for positive, neutral, and negative pictures.

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