Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Distract yourself or think it over? 2 ways to deal with negative emotions

06.07.2011
A big part of coping with life is having a flexible reaction to the ups and downs.

Now, a study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people choose to respond differently depending on how intense an emotion is.

When confronted with high-intensity negative emotions, they tend to choose to turn their attention away, but with something lower-intensity, they tend to think it over and neutralize the feeling that way.

Emotions are useful—for example, fear tells your body to get ready to escape or fight in a dangerous situation. But emotions can also become problematic – for example, for people with depression who can't stop thinking about negative thoughts, says Gal Sheppes of Stanford University, who cowrote the study with Stanford colleagues Gaurav Suri and James J. Gross, and Susanne Scheibe of the University of Groningen. "Luckily, our emotions can be adjusted in various ways," he says.

Sheppes and his colleagues studied two main ways that people modulate their emotions; by distracting themselves or by reappraising the situation. For example, if you're in the waiting room at the dentist, you might distract yourself from the upcoming unpleasantness by reading about celebrity breakups – "Maybe that's why the magazines are there in the first place," Sheppes says – or you might talk yourself through it: "I say, ok, I have to undergo this root canal, but it will make my health better, and it will pass, and I've done worse things, and I can remind myself that I'm ok."

While many previous studies directly instructed people to employ different strategies and measured their consequences, the researchers wanted to know which regulation strategies people choose for themselves when confronted with negative situations of mild and strong intensity. In one experiment, participants chose how to regulate negative emotions induced by pictures that produce a low-intensity emotion and some that produce high-intensity emotion – a picture of a snake in the grass, for example, should give you low-intensity fear, while a picture of a snake attacking with an open mouth should be more intense. In another experiment, participants chose how to regulate their anxiety while anticipating unpredictable electric shocks, but they were told before each shock whether it would be of low intensity or more painful shock. Before the experiments, the participants were trained on the two strategies, distraction and reappraisal, and during the experiments, they talked about which strategy they were using at which time.

In both experiments, when the negative emotion was low-intensity, participants preferred to reappraise – think through it, telling themselves why it wasn't so bad. But when high-intensity emotions arose, they preferred to distract themselves.

It's helpful to understand which strategies healthy people choose to regulate their emotions in different contexts, Sheppes says, because it seems like people with depression and anxiety disorders might have those problems partially because it is hard for them to flexibly modulate their emotions to differing situational demands. "Maybe they need to learn when and when not to engage," he says.

For more information about this study, please contact: Gal Sheppes at sheppes@stanford.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Emotion Regulation Choice" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

Further reports about: anxiety disorder negative emotions

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION 2018 in Switzerland focuses on building blocks for industrial digitalization

20.11.2017 | Trade Fair News

Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>