Choosing between emotion regulation strategies to appear cool, calm, and collected: Does emotional stimulus intensity matter?

  • Dorota Szczygieł SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Sopot
  • Wiesław Baryła SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Sopot
Keywords: emotion regulation; suppression; reappraisal; choice; intensity; memory


The present study examined the effect of negative emotional stimulus intensity (low versus high) on the choice of emotion regulation (ER) strategy when a person wants to control their emotional expression, and the impact of this choice on how the information accompanying emotional stimuli is remembered. The effects of emotional stimulus intensity on the choice of ER strategy were examined in two studies. In both studies, the participants (unaware of the differences in the intensity of stimuli) were asked to view images inducing negative emotions of high and low intensity and to choose which strategy (cognitive reappraisal or expressive suppression) they would use in order to control their emotional expression. In addition, in Study 2, the authors tested the memory of the verbal content accompanying the emotional stimuli that appeared during the ER period. As expected, the participants chose reappraisal over suppression when confronted with low-intensity stimuli. In contrast, when confronted with high-intensity stimuli, they chose suppression over reappraisal. The results of Study 2 revealed that memory accuracy was higher for those images that the participants chose to use reappraisal rather than suppression.


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