Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Emotion regulation patterns: Capturing variability and flexibility in emotion regulation in an experience sampling study

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Variability and flexibility in emotion regulation (ER) are considered important ingredients in adaptive ER. Few attempts at operationalizing variability and flexibility in ER have been made. In two 10-day experience sampling studies (N = 51 and 39), healthy participants rated their momentary emotions and their ER efforts in response to those emotions. We evaluated the association between ER (i.e., between and within ER strategy variability and ER flexibility, operationalized as putatively adaptive, putatively maladaptive and total strategies) and measures of well-being (psychological distress, satisfaction with life) in general (person-level) and in everyday life (day-level). Higher within-variability indicated that a strategy was used more at some occasions and less at others. Higher between-variability indicated variation in the extent to which different strategies were engaged at the same time point. Overall, results were mixed, but in some instances, indicators of ER variability and ER flexibility were related to each other and measures of well-being differently. Total within ER variability was negatively associated with well-being at the person and day level. Putatively adaptive between and within ER variability were associated with less well-being at the person level. At the day level, putatively adaptive and maladaptive between ER variability and maladaptive within ER variability were negatively associated with well-being. Putatively adaptive ER flexibility was negatively associated with satisfaction with life. This study adds to the literature on indicators of variability and flexibility in ER and their potential adaptiveness. The results indicate that variability in ER could be a maladaptive property, but more research is needed to understand this in terms of putatively adaptive and maladaptive strategies. Future studies on the adaptiveness of these indicators should obtain more contextual information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

    Research areas

  • Adaptive emotion regulation, emotion regulation flexibility, emotion regulation variability, experience sampling, REGULATION STRATEGIES, PERSONALITY, COPING FLEXIBILITY, SOCIAL ANXIETY, MODEL, SATISFACTION, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, DIFFERENTIATION, QUESTIONNAIRE, LIFE

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