The efficiency of reappraisal and expressive suppression in regulating everyday affective experiences

Thomas Meyer, Tom Smeets, Timo Giesbrecht, Harald Merckelbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


A widespread assumption in research and clinical practice is that cognitive reappraisal is a healthy and successful emotion regulation strategy, while expressive suppression is ineffective and has non-favourable consequences (e.g., decreased positive affect, higher physiological arousal). However, little is known about the consequences of reappraisal and expressive suppression for everyday affect. We investigated affective consequences of habitual reappraisal and expressive suppression in undergraduates (n=87), and sampled affect characteristics for 24h. Moreover, we quantified affective recovery from viewing an aversive video fragment. Habitual reappraisal was associated with lowered emotional arousal (but not valence), both in terms of diurnal affect levels and positive and negative responses to the emotional provocation task. This pattern contravenes the popular assumption that reappraisal has generally favourable consequences. Additionally, in contrast to the alleged non-favourable consequences of habitual expressive suppression, the current study failed to find a relation between expressive suppression, diurnal affect levels and affective recovery. This suggests that the detrimental effects of expressive suppression are limited in duration. Collectively, our results emphasise that the everyday consequences of emotion regulation for affect merits systematic research, for instance by using more naturalistic and prolonged interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-969
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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