Individual Differences in Emotion and Thought Regulation Processes: Implications for Mental Health and Wellbeing (pages 243-258)

Cornelia Măirean

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on two strategies – cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression – that people use to regulate their emotions and thoughts in daily life. Cognitive reappraisal is considered to be the effort made by an individual with the aim of changing the meaning of a situation in order to decrease its intense and negative emotional impact. Expressive suppression represents the effort of inhibiting the outward signs of inner emotional states or unwanted thoughts. Many studies, both experimental and correlational, showed that cognitive reappraisal is often more effective than expressive suppression. In this paper, previous studies about the role of emotion and thought dysregulation in the development of negative psychological outcomes were reviewed. First, the definition and characteristics of emotion and thought regulation strategies are presented. Secondly, the specific individual differences in the use of emotion and thought regulation strategies, in terms of personality traits, attachment, gender, and age, are discussed. The third section presents the associations between these emotion and thought regulation strategies and various mental disorders. In the last section, previous empirical studies that analyzed the associations between such strategies and wellbeing, defined as a low level of negative affect, a high level of positive affect, and life satisfaction, are presented.

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