Most of us have been told that keeping your “cool” is a great quality. However, The Association for Psychological Science has just issued a press release saying that new research suggests that keeping your emotions in check may not be as beneficial as once thought.
They noted that being able to regulate your emotions in general is good for well-being. However, the new research shows that emotion regulation in the form of “cognition reappraisal” may be harmful when it comes to stressors.
Cognitive reappraisal is a strategy where the individual reframes their thoughts about a given situation in order to change its emotional impact. This emotion regulation strategy was previously seen as beneficial for people who are highly stressed. But this new research purports that it might only be beneficial in certain circumstances and could have a negative impact in others.
Lead researcher Allison Troy says, “Context is important. Our research is among the first to suggest that cognitive reappraisal may actually have negative effects on psychological health in certain contexts.”
Troy gives an example of the positive use and the negative use of this emotion regulation strategy. Cognitive reappraisal is helpful for someone dealing with stress from a loved one being sick; a situation they have little control over. But for someone who is stressed out about their poor performance at work, where they have quite a bit of control, using reappraisal could have a negative impact as it might make the individual less inclined to attempt to change the situation.
The study’s findings contradict existing research, which has shown that reappraisal is linked with positive outcomes. “These results suggest that no emotion regulation strategy is always adaptive,” says Troy. “Adaptive emotion regulation likely involves the ability to use a wide variety of strategies in different contexts, rather than relying on just one strategy in all contexts.”