Individual Differences in Adultsâ Self-Report of Negative Affect and Effortful Control: Consequences for Physiology, Emotion, and Behavior During Regulatory Tasks
Santucci, Aimee Kristin
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Emotion regulation is processes by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express those emotions. In the field of developmental psychology, there is a large literature on affect regulation focused almost exclusively on infants and young children with a focus on temperamental differences in reactivity, both affective and physiological, and accompanying regulatory strategies. The purpose of the current study was to examine the role of two dimensions of temperament, negative affect (NA) and effortful control (EC), and how these dimensions relate to physiology, self-report of emotion, and behavior during resting and stressor tasks (Stroop, video game, hand cold pressor, and delayed gratification), the latter in which emotion suppression instructions were given. Using the Adult Temperament Questionnaire (ATQ) to screen 656 subjects, 24 males and 53 females were recruited to take part in the second phase of the study, creating four groups with their screening ATQ scores: high NA/high EC, low NA/low EC, high NA/low EC, low NA/high EC. Physiological measures derived from electrocardiogram (ECG) and impedance cardiography were recorded during each task and behaviors were coded using the Emotion Expressive Behavior Coding System. EC Group and NA Group were not significant for the majority of the physiological, self-report, and behavioral variables. However, the EC subscale inhibitory control was predictive of lower resting HRV for females only, and the Extraversion/Surgency subscale Sociability was a significant predictor of cardiac sympathetic activity during the tasks, with low sociability subjects showing a stronger sympathetic response. Neither self-report of emotion nor behavioral variables show a clear group difference in response to the tasks. Future studies will examine the use of other types of regulatory tasks, such as social interactions, as well as the need for a balance between emotion expressivity and emotion regulation.
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