Emotional Regulation and Supression

 The British Psychological Society reports on how people regulate their emotions.

They report that according to new research published in the journal Emotion, a person’s ability to regulate or not regulate their emotions has a big impact on the level of anxiety they feel.

This new research purports that individuals who adopt an emotional regulation strategy called reappraisal often suffer from less general and social anxiety than those who fail to express their feelings openly.

Nicole Llewellyn, a graduate student from the University of Illinois, explained the reappraisal strategy as one that sees people thinking about things in a more positive light, adding: “You sort of re-frame and reappraise what’s happened and think what are the positives about this?”  Individuals who follow this approach will often consider how an issue can be a seen as a stimulating challenge as opposed to a problem.

FarsNews.com reports on a related study, conducted by British researchers, that shows that different brain areas are activated when we choose to suppress an emotion compared to when we are instructed to inhibit an emotion.

Dr. Simone Kuhn of Ghent University and colleagues scanned the brains of healthy participants and found that key brain systems were activated when choosing to suppress an emotion. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement.

This result shows that emotional self-control involves a quite different brain system from simply being told how to respond emotionally,” Kuhn, the lead author, reported.

He went on to note, “We should distinguish between voluntary and instructed control of emotions, in the same way as we can distinguish between making up our own mind about what do, versus following instructions.

This study published in Brain Structure and Function had fifteen healthy women view unpleasant or frightening pictures. The participants were given a choice to feel the emotion elicited by the image, or alternatively to inhibit the emotion, by distancing themselves through an act of self-control.

The researchers further delineated, “Most studies of emotion processing in the brain simply assume that people passively receive emotional stimuli, and automatically feel the corresponding emotion. In contrast, the area we have identified may contribute to some individuals’ ability to rise above particular emotional situations.

 What are Your Thoughts on this new Emotion Regulation Information?

2 responses to “Emotional Regulation and Supression”

  1. Gavin says:

    So in summary, if I tell you to calm down, it will trigger a different neurological response than if I tried to help you calm down, without telling you directly.

    The study should have looked at how the duration of the emotional change differs between passive emotional stimuli and active; when I make my own mind up. Perhaps active has longer emotional duration after a change than passive as the stimuli’s displacement differs – active stays with the individual whereas passive depends on the individual’s contact with the stimulating person.

  2. Gavin,
    Those are great points. Unfortunately, they were not fully explained in the study. Thank you for sharing your insights and information with the Humintell Community.

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