How is emotional awareness related to emotion regulation strategies and self-reported negative affect in the general population?

Claudia Subic-Wrana, Manfred E. Beutel, Elmar Brähler, Yve Stöbel-Richter, Achim Knebel, Richard D. Lane, Jörg Wiltink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) as a performance task discriminates between implicit or subconscious and explicit or conscious levels of emotional awareness. An impaired awareness of one's feeling states may influence emotion regulation strategies and self-reports of negative emotions. To determine this influence, we applied the LEAS and self-report measures for emotion regulation strategies and negative affect in a representative sample of the German general population. Sample and Methods: A short version of the LEAS, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), assessing reappraisal and suppression as emotion regulation strategies, were presented to N= 2524 participants of a representative German community study. The questionnaire data were analyzed with regard to the level of emotional awareness. Results: LEAS scores were independent from depression, but related to self-reported anxiety. Although of small or medium effect size, different correlational patters between emotion regulation strategies and negative affectivity were related to implict and explict levels of emotional awareness. In participants with implicit emotional awareness, suppression was related to higher anxiety and depression, whereas in participants with explicit emotional awareness, in addition to a positive relationship of suppression and depression, we found a negative relationship of reappraisal to depression. These findings were independent of age. In women high use of suppression and little use of reappraisal were more strongly related to negative affect than in men. Discussion: Our first findings suggest that conscious awareness of emotions may be a precondition for the use of reappraisal as an adaptive emotion regulation strategy. They encourage further research in the relation between subconsious and conscious emotional awareness and the prefarance of adaptive or maladaptive emotion regulation strategies The correlational trends found in a representative sample of the general population may become more pronounced in clinical samples. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere91846
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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