The links between Emotion-Network Density, Depression, Negative Emotionality, and Sleep in Adolescents
Emotion dysregulation can occur through many different processes, one of which is emotional blending. Emotional blending results from basic, discrete emotions turning into a blend of emotions. A recent line of research by Pe and colleagues (2015) has explored the concept of emotion-network density, which is related to the blending of emotions. A network approach examines the temporal connections between emotions at different time periods, and describes the strength in these connections. When emotions are formed into a dense network, especially negative emotions, they may lose their adaptive function to mobilize an individual to respond to their environmental demands, thus resulting in additional problems for the individual. Moreover, the original study by Pe and colleagues (2015) examined emotion-network density only in relation to depressive symptoms. The present study set out to broaden the research conducted by Pe et al. (2015) using a non-clinical adolescent sample (N = 96) to determine the specificity of the link between emotion-network density and depression, and to see if it was better explained by general negative emotionality. Furthermore, we examined if there was an effect of poor sleep on an increase in emotion-network density that was unique from depression. Overall, findings revealed significant individual associations between depression, anxiety, neuroticism (general negative emotionality) and emotion-network density; however, there were no unique associations between the predictors and the emotion-network density outcomes. Sleep was found to predict emotion-network density, but in the direction opposite to the initial hypothesis. Results indicate that general negative affectivity is a better indicator of having a denser network of emotions, and that depression does not specifically predict this. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for future research on this novel construct in the emotion literature.