Impacts of Acceptance and Reappraisal Training on Physiology, and Self-Reported Emotions, Mental Health, and Flourishing
Dr. Lindsey Root Luna
A growing field of research has examined emotion regulation in a variety of settings. Specific emotion regulation strategies are more adaptive than others, eliciting decreased physiological responses, fewer psychopathological symptoms, and increased positive functioning. In the context of an interpersonal transgression, emotion regulation strategies are linked to increased flourishing and forgiveness. Our study examined training in and implementation of acceptance and reappraisal strategies in response to an interpersonal transgression. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (reappraisal, acceptance, or control). Participants completed two visits, one week apart. During both visits participants were asked to think of an interpersonal transgression and complete questionnaires, which measured emotion regulation, forgiveness, anxiety, depression, satisfaction with life, and flourishing. Each participant completed five imagery trials (120 s) consisting of pre-trial baselines, rumination and implementing an emotion regulation strategy if in the acceptance or reappraisal conditions. During each trial, heart rate, heart-rate variability, blood pressure, and facial EMG were measured. Following each trial participants completed written responses and ratings on current emotional states. Preliminary results indicated that the acceptance group endorsed greater positive affect (e.g., peace, happiness) and lower negative affect (e.g., sadness), than those in the control or reappraisal groups. Additionally, there were significant decreases in rumination and anxiety and significant increases in satisfaction with life and acknowledgement of the impact of the event across all three groups. Physiologically, participants in the acceptance group experienced a significant decrease in heart rate from rumination to imagery trials; no significant differences were found for participants in the reappraisal or control groups. Overall, initial analyses indicate that acceptance increased positive affect and decreased negative affect and heart rate for participants.
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