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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2006 May;32(5):589-602.

How to bite your tongue without blowing your top: implicit evaluation of emotion regulation predicts affective responding to anger provocation.

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  • 1Department of Psychology,University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA. imauss@psy.du.edu

Abstract

People frequently have to control their emotions to function in life. However, mounting evidence suggests that deliberate emotion regulation often is costly. This presents a dilemma: Is it better to let emotions go or to pay the price of exerting costly control? In two studies, the authors explore whether emotion regulatory processes associated with implicit positive evaluation of emotion regulation might provide the benefits of successful emotion regulation without the costs. In Study 1, the authors introduce a measure of implicit evaluation of emotion regulation (ER-IAT). Study 2 examined whether this measure is associated with actual emotional responses to an anger provocation. It was found that greater ER-IAT scores were associated with lesser anger experience, fewer negative thoughts, lessened self-reported effortful emotion regulation, and an adaptive pattern of cardiovascular responding. These findings suggest that implicit positive evaluation of emotion regulation is associated with successful, automatic, and physiologically adaptive down-regulation of anger.

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