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Title page for ETD etd-05152017-152254

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Knowles, Kelly Ann
Author's Email Address kelly.a.knowles@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-05152017-152254
Title Affect labeling of discrete negative emotions as a mechanism of emotion regulation
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bunmi O. Olatunji, PhD Committee Chair
Jo-Anne Bachorowski, PhD Committee Member
Steven D. Hollon, PhD Committee Member
  • affect labeling
  • emotion regulation
Date of Defense 2017-04-27
Availability restricted
Affect labeling, the act of putting one’s feelings into words, is a form of emotion regulation that can be applied in multiple therapeutic contexts. However, it is unclear if affect labeling provides a general down-regulating effect regardless of the specific emotional context or if it works differently across different negative emotions. Additionally, mixed findings in the literature need clarification, as both related and unrelated labels have shown to be effective in different experimental contexts. The present study examined the effects of labeling fear, disgust, and sadness images in multiple labeling contexts, using both subjective and physiological measurement. Although there was a general exposure effect of reduced reactivity to images over time, affect labeling did not provide additional benefit; in some cases, unrelated labeling outperformed related affect labeling. Despite hypothesized benefits of affect labeling for those with weaker emotion-regulation skills, greater exposure effects were found for those with high emotional intelligence and reduced use of emotional suppression, especially in the unrelated labeling condition. Implications for the use of affect labeling and other forms of emotion regulation in cognitive-behavioral and exposure therapy are discussed.
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