Negative affect (NA) and deficits in emotion regulation (ER) are associated with poorer behavioral self-regulation across multiple health domains. Specifically, people who report more NA and have difficulty regulating negative emotions are more likely to engage in emotional eating and eating disordered behavior. Among smokers, NA is associated with higher rates of smoking and more difficulty with cessation. Though ER approaches vary in effectiveness, implementing ER strategies is one promising way of improving self-regulation of eating and other health behaviors. The current research compares the effects of several ER strategies on distress and eating behavior (Study 1), and compares ER skills of smokers versus nonsmokers (Study 2). In Study 1, participants (N = 114) were assigned to one of four ER conditions (suppression, cognitive reappraisal, mindfulness, and a no-instruction control), watched a movie clip to induce NA, and completed a tasting activity. Results showed that, compared to mindfulness or reappraisal, suppression was associated with eating more sweets; furthermore, this effect was stronger for those people naturally tending toward suppression or emotional eating. Study 2 compared ER profiles of daily smokers (N = 99) and nonsmokers from Study 1 (N = 114). Results indicated that, compared to nonsmokers, smokers had significantly poorer ER skills and relied on less effective ER strategies (e.g., suppression). In sum, this research provides a stepping-stone toward improved interventions to facilitate behavioral change processes by linking habitual ER vulnerabilities to health risk behaviors and providing a controlled lab-based test of different ER strategies on health behavior regulation.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2013. Major: Psychology. Advisors:Patricia A. Frazier and Alexander J. Rothman. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 201 pages, appendices A-F.
Keenan, Nora Kathleen.
Emotion regulation and health behavior: effects of negative affect and emotion regulation strategies on eating and smoking.
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