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EXPERIMENTALLY TESTING THE MALLEABILITY OF EMOTION DIFFERENTIATION IN EMERGING ADULTHOOD USING A DIVERSE COMMUNITY SAMPLE: AN ECOLOGICAL MOMENTARY ASSESSMENT STUDY

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posted on 2024-05-16, 20:35 authored by Ella Sara Sudit

Emotion processing is an important part of daily functioning. One specific form ofemotion processing is Emotion Differentiation (ED); defined as the ability to understand emotional experiences in a nuanced manner. ED has been distinguished as a trans-diagnostic mechanism that positively impacts mental health across a breadth of disorders. Based on its relevance to well-being, a key question in the field is whether ED is a state- or trait-level construct. If proven to be malleable, ED could be a powerful tool in combating the growing mental health crisis, especially in the context of internalizing symptoms and stress. Only two studies to date have alluded to ED’s potential malleability, however neither has looked at how ED practice itself could influence ED ability or whether manipulations to ED could translate to reductions of mental health symptoms. This study experimentally tested whether ED practice could improve ED ability over time and whether the positive effects of ED ability on mental health could be harnessed through ED practice to reduce internalizing symptom severity and experiences of stress. Emerging adults from the community (n = 80) were recruited to participate. Participants were assigned to either an active or passive condition. Individuals in the active condition completed a baseline session which included measures of internalizing symptoms, stress, and ED ability then a week of ED practice followed by a follow-up session consisting of the same battery ii as completed in the baseline. Individuals in the passive condition completed the same baseline session, then a passive week followed by a secondary baseline session consisting of the same battery as the baseline, and then a week of active ED practice followed by the follow-up session that mirrored those in the active condition. The study design was meant to test the hypotheses using both within- and between-subject analyses. My study did not find that ED ability was improved after a week of active ED practice, nor did ED practice reduce internalizing symptoms severity or stress. This was true when looking at both within- and between-subject analyses. My study suggests that ED practice alone may not be enough to impact ED ability or internalizing symptoms severity and stress. Further research is necessary to clarify the malleability of ED and what specific manipulations are necessary to influence both ED ability and its subsequent impact on mental health symptoms.

History

Publisher

ProQuest

Language

English

Committee chair

Nathaniel R. Herr

Committee member(s)

Kathleen C. Gunthert; Nicole E. Lorenzo

Degree discipline

Psychology

Degree grantor

American University. College of Arts and Sciences

Degree level

  • Masters

Degree name

M.A. in Psychology, American University, May 2024

Local identifier

Sudit_american_0008N_12136.pdf

Media type

application/pdf

Pagination

54 pages

Submission ID

12136

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