Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Iris B. Mauss

Keywords

cognitive reappraisal, context, depression, emotion regulation, resilience, stress

Abstract

Emotion regulation is crucially involved in individuals' psychological health. For example, the frequent use of cognitive reappraisal, or changing the way one thinks about an emotional event, is positively associated with psychological health. Recent cross-sectional findings have shown that the ability to use cognitive reappraisal (cognitive reappraisal ability; CRA) is associated with lower depression in the context of high stress. However, two important questions about CRA remain unexamined: 1) Does CRA predict long-term adjustment to stress? 2) Do the protective effects of CRA depend upon the type of stress encountered? To examine these questions, a community sample of men and women (n=181) who had recently experienced a stressful life event was recruited and a prospective longitudinal design was employed. Life stress severity, stressor controllability, and depressive symptoms were measured at Time 1 and at Time 2 (6 months later). CRA was measured using a multi-method laboratory challenge at Time 1. The results of Question 1 revealed a significant prospective relationship in which CRA interacted with changes in life stress to predict changes in depression between Time 1 and Time 2. Specifically, among individuals with greater increases in stress, those with high CRA reported significantly smaller increases in depressive symptoms relative to those with low CRA. For Question 2, results indicated that the protective effects of CRA depend upon the stressors' controllability. Specifically, in highly stressful contexts that were uncontrollable, the protective effects of CRA remained, such that high CRA was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms. In highly stressful contexts that were controllable, the protective effects of CRA were reversed, such that high CRA was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. Thus, CRA appears to be adaptive in uncontrollable but maladaptive in controllable stressful contexts. Overall, these results suggest that, for highly stressed individuals, CRA is an important protective factor against long-term increases in depression. Importantly, however, these protective effects depend upon the type of stressful context encountered. These results have important implications for understanding how emotion regulation ability contributes to risk and resilience in the face of stress, for clinical interventions and prevention programs, and for understanding what constitutes adaptive emotion regulation across contexts.

Provenance

Recieved from ProQuest

Rights holder

Allison S. Troy

File size

107 p.

File format

application/pdf

Language

en

Discipline

Experimental psychology, Physiological psychology, Social psychology

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