Divergent effects of instructed and reported emotion regulation strategies on children's memory for emotional information.

Research paper by Parisa P Parsafar, Elizabeth L EL Davis

Indexed on: 03 Apr '19Published on: 02 Apr '19Published in: Cognition & emotion


Distraction can reduce adults' memory for emotion-eliciting information, whereas reappraisal can preserve or enhance it. Yet, when given instructions to use specific emotion regulation (ER) strategies, adults report using other strategies too. The consequences of non-instructed strategy use within instructed ER paradigms are rarely examined. We investigated how both instructed and non-instructed but reported strategies related to memory for emotional information in childhood. Older (N = 69; 8- to 10-year-olds; 24 girls) and younger (N = 65; 5- to 7-year-olds; 35 girls) children received instructions to use cognitive distraction, reappraisal, or do nothing (control) before and after viewing a negative emotional film clip. Children were later interviewed about what they remembered about the film, and reported the ER strategies they used during it. Memory did not vary across instructed ER strategy conditions, and reported strategies did not relate to memory differently for older and younger children. Consistent with adult work, reported cognitive distraction related to poorer memory. Different reappraisal types were reported, but only situation-focused reappraisal was linked to better memory. In sum, children's reported cognitive distraction and reappraisal strategies related to memory for emotional information differently. Thus, ER strategies divergently relate to what children remember about their emotional experiences.