Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Sci. 2019 Apr 16:956797619838763. doi: 10.1177/0956797619838763. [Epub ahead of print]

Differentiate to Regulate: Low Negative Emotion Differentiation Is Associated With Ineffective Use but Not Selection of Emotion-Regulation Strategies.

Author information

1 School of Psychology, The University of Newcastle.
2 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven.


Emotion differentiation, which involves experiencing and labeling emotions in a granular way, has been linked with well-being. It has been theorized that differentiating between emotions facilitates effective emotion regulation, but this link has yet to be comprehensively tested. In two experience-sampling studies, we examined how negative emotion differentiation was related to (a) the selection of emotion-regulation strategies and (b) the effectiveness of these strategies in downregulating negative emotion ( Ns = 200 and 101 participants and 34,660 and 6,282 measurements, respectively). Unexpectedly, we found few relationships between differentiation and the selection of putatively adaptive or maladaptive strategies. Instead, we found interactions between differentiation and strategies in predicting negative emotion. Among low differentiators, all strategies (Study 1) and four of six strategies (Study 2) were more strongly associated with increased negative emotion than they were among high differentiators. This suggests that low differentiation may hinder successful emotion regulation, which in turn supports the idea that effective regulation may underlie differentiation benefits.


emotion differentiation; emotion regulation; emotional control; emotions; experience sampling; open data; open materials


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center