Negative emotion differentiation and related processes : a qualitative approach

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jaimie M. Lunsford (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kari Eddington

Abstract: Negative emotion differentiation (i.e., the tendency to label one’s own negative affective experiences in a discrete way rather than having only a vague sense of feeling “bad”) has been found to be associated with fewer symptoms of various types of psychopathology, including depression symptoms. However, the mechanisms involved in these relationships are still not well understood. Additionally, current measurement methods using emotion rating scales may be unintentionally capturing confounding variables and do not allow for the examination of key theoretical aspects of the construct. This paper will elaborate upon theoretical and empirical issues in the field and present the results of a recent study. In the study, free-form descriptions of participants’ momentary emotions from an existing dataset were coded for two features: the specificity of emotion labels, and the participants’ attributional awareness regarding the cause of the emotion. Attributions significantly predicted depression symptoms, rumination, overgeneralizing cognitions, and the emotion regulation strategies of suppression and distraction. Specificity was not significantly associated with any variables of interest. This novel qualitative approach provides insight into individuals’ naturalistic use of emotion-related language and allows for the examination of within-person variation in emotion labeling processes.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Emotion Differentiation
Differentiation (Cognition)
Affect (Psychology)

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