Previous research has examined emotion regulation (ER) and trauma in the context of psychopathology, yet little research has examined ER in posttraumatic growth (PTG), the experience of positive psychological change following a traumatic event. ER typically involves decreasing negative affect by engaging (e.g. reappraisal) or disengaging (e.g. distraction) with emotional content. To investigate how ER may support PTG, participants who experienced a traumatic event in the past 6 months completed a PTG questionnaire and an ER choice task in which they down regulated their negative emotion in response to negative pictures of varying intensity by choosing to distract or reappraise. Latent growth curve analyses revealed that an increase in reappraisal choice from low to high subjective stimulus intensity predicted higher PTG, suggesting that individuals who chose reappraisal more as intensity increased reported higher PTG. Findings suggest that reappraisal of negative stimuli following a traumatic event may be a key component of PTG.
- Emotion regulation
- posttraumatic growth