Awareness, Attention, Acceptance: How Mindfulness As An Emotion Regulation Strategy Could Reduce Anxiety

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rebekah C. Knight (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Lisa Emery

Abstract: This study examines how emotion regulation (suppression and mindfulness) during stimulus encoding impacts feelings of anxiety at re-exposure. Prior research suggests that suppression is ineffective at changing negative feelings short-term, instead prolonging or exacerbating negative emotions over time. Mindfulness-based therapies, however, have been shown to reduce chronic negative affect in those suffering from various disorders. Prior research in our laboratory found that although mindfulness and suppression did not differ in short-term effectiveness, mindfulness improved stimulus memory in people who were highly anxious. This improved memory may in turn decrease arousal felt upon stimulus re-exposure. To test this, I conducted a 2 (High vs. Low Anxiety) x 2 (Time 1 vs. Time 2) x 3 (Suppression vs. Natural vs. Mindful regulation) mixed experimental design. At Time 1, participants viewed a series of pictures under different emotion regulation strategies, rating each for levels of arousal and valence experienced. At Time 2, participants viewed and rated these and novel pictures without instruction conditions. Hypotheses were unsupported: There were no long-term effects of regulation on arousal. The high-anxiety group remained more aroused regardless of instruction or time point, suggesting that short-term use of emotion regulation does not impact feelings of arousal long-term.

Additional Information

Knight, R. (2018). "Awareness, Attention, Acceptance: How Mindfulness As An Emotion Regulation Strategy Could Reduce Anxiety." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Emotion regulation, Mindfulness, Suppression, Anxiety, Memory

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