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Selection Frequency & Affective Outcomes of Reappraisal Tactics

Cognitive reappraisal is an effective emotion regulation technique, but there is a lack of research focused on the selection frequency and affective outcomes of specific cognitive reappraisal tactics. The present study evaluated the selection frequency and affective outcomes of three cognitive reappraisal tactics: change current circumstances, change future consequences, and acceptance. Forty-seven participants completed a computerized emotion regulation task in which they reappraised (“decrease” condition) or passively viewed (“look” condition) one hundred-forty-four negative images. Following each image, participants were asked to rate how negative they feel, and to indicate how they changed the meaning of the picture. Results indicate differences in the frequency of tactics used across conditions (F(1.70, 44) = 128.30, p < .001, ηρ² = .75). For the “decrease” condition, the change current circumstances tactic was selected most frequently, while for the “look” condition, the acceptance tactic was selected most frequently. For affective outcomes, the “decrease” condition resulted in better affective outcomes compared to the “look” condition (F(1, 5801.80) = 11.70, p < .001) with the change current circumstances tactic being the most successful at decreasing negative emotions. Knowing which reappraisal tactics are most frequently selected, and their affective outcomes may help us better understand how to improve people’s ability to use reappraisal to achieve their emotional goals.