Knowing what you 're feeling and knowing what to do about it: Mapping the relation between emotion differentiation and emotion regulation'

Cognition and Emotion 15 (6):713-724 (2001)
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Individuals differ considerably in their emotion experience. Some experience emotions in a highly differentiated manner, clearly distinguishing among a variety of negative and positive discrete emotions. Others experience emotions in a relatively undifferentiated manner, treating a range of like-valence terms as interchangeable. Drawing on self-regulation theory, we hypothesised that individuals with highly differentiated emotion experience should be better able to regulate emotions than individuals with poorly differentiated emotion experience. In particular, we hypothesised that emotion differentiation and emotion regulation would be positively related in the context of intense negative emotions, where the press for emotion regulation is generally greatest. To test this hypothesis, participants' negative and positive emotion differentiation was assessed using a 14-day diary protocol. Participants' regulation of negative and positive emotions was assessed using laboratory measures. As predicted, negative emotion differentiation was positively related to the frequency of negative emotion regulation, particularly at higher levels of emotional intensity.



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