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Regulation of positive emotions: measurement and individual differences

Bower, J. L. (2016) Regulation of positive emotions: measurement and individual differences. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Regulation of positive emotions is under-researched, despite evidence linking dysregulation to mental health problems. Furthermore, studies often use clinical populations, with limited data from healthy volunteers. The current thesis investigated individual differences in the regulation of positive emotions, and developed and validated tools for the study of emotion regulation. The State/Trait Emotion Regulation Questionnaires (STERQ) were created and validated, showing good reliability, model fit and convergent validity. The project also examined the feasibility of online emotion regulation experiments, showing these can be conducted via the internet, with comparable results to those obtained within the laboratory, albeit eliciting smaller effect sizes. Two studies investigated spontaneous and instructed regulation of positive emotions in healthy participants, focusing on associations between emotion regulation and risk for hypomania and depression. Emotional intrusion was positively associated with both increased hypomania and depression traits. Additionally, hypomanic personality traits were associated with use of more strategies to regulate positive emotions. Individuals with higher depression scores showed some lowering of baseline positive emotions and increased dampening in response to positive emotions. Finally, the thesis assessed the impact of positive emotions on subsequent emotion regulation responses to negative stimuli, testing the hypothesis that positive emotions may have a protective impact on the experience of negative emotion. Elicitation of positive emotions did not affect the regulation strategies, emotional or physiological response to subsequent negative stimuli. Various future directions arise from the current work. The creation of the STERQ provides additional measures for investigating the temporal and contextual dynamics of emotion regulation. Research into regulating positive emotions could be extended through the manipulation of emotional intensity and types of emotion examined. Finally, studying how emotion regulation changes in response to mixed valence states may better reflect real life, leading to a more nuanced understanding of emotion regulation and its relationship with psychopathology.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Steel, C. and Christakou, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:69518
Date on Title Page:2015


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