Divergent Cognitive Costs for Online Forms of Reappraisal and Distraction

Gal Sheppes*, Nachshon Meiran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study was set out to evaluate the cognitive costs of two major emotion regulation strategies under conditions of increased challenge. Previous studies have established that cognitive reappraisal (construing an emotional event in nonemotional terms) has no cognitive costs. However, in all of these studies, reappraisal was initiated at the emotional situation onset, before emotional response tendencies sufficiently evolved. In the present study, the challenge of regulation strategies was increased by initiating strategies online at a late time point in an emotional situation. Applying this procedure revealed for the first time a cognitive cost for reappraisal and also provided double dissociation between reappraisal and another major cognitive emotion regulation strategy - distraction (diverting attention from an emotional situation via producing neutral thoughts). Specifically, late reappraisal, relative to distraction, resulted in an expenditure of self control resources. Late distraction but not reappraisal impaired memory encoding of the emotional situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-874
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive cost
  • cognitive reappraisal
  • distraction
  • online emotion regulation
  • self control


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