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Personality and Individual Differences

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Implicit emotion regulation is a mechanism that relies on habitual patterns to regulate efficiently without direct awareness. While an important aspect of successful regulation, few studies have assessed it experimentally. Those that have typically prime reappraisal and compare this strategy to explicit reappraisal or a control. The current study introduced a novel paradigm to assess implicit use of reappraisal or suppression. Specifically, we used a cognitive bias modification task to evaluate differences in implicit emotion regulation strategy selection. This resulted in roughly half of the participants tending toward choosing predominantly reappraisal words (High Reappraisers) and half choosing equal numbers of reappraisal and suppression words (Flexible Regulators). The possibility that this reflected implicit regulation style was further supported by significant relationships between implicit regulation choice and self-reported use of strategies. Contrary to hypotheses, implicit regulation style did not affect self-reported emotions following the distress task. Still, those scoring high in implicit reappraisal reported fewer difficulties in overall emotion regulation. These findings highlight the utility of a behavioral measure to capture variations in implicit emotion regulation style to better understand the context and factors that are most effective for emotion regulation more generally.


Accepted version. Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 163 (September 1, 2020): 110067. DOI. © 2020 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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