Sad as a Matter of Choice? Emotion-Regulation Goals in Depression.

Research paper by Yael Y Millgram, Jutta J Joormann, Jonathan D JD Huppert, Maya M Tamir

Indexed on: 21 Jun '15Published on: 21 Jun '15Published in: Psychological Science


Research on deficits in emotion regulation has devoted considerable attention to emotion-regulation strategies. We propose that deficits in emotion regulation may also be related to emotion-regulation goals. We tested this possibility by assessing the direction in which depressed people chose to regulate their emotions (i.e., toward happiness, toward sadness). In three studies, clinically depressed participants were more likely than nondepressed participants to use emotion-regulation strategies in a direction that was likely to maintain or increase their level of sadness. This pattern was found when using the regulation strategies of situation selection (Studies 1 and 2) and cognitive reappraisal (Study 3). The findings demonstrate that maladaptive emotion regulation may be linked not only to the means people use to regulate their emotions, but also to the ends toward which those means are directed.