This study examines affect regulation and adaptive goals with regard to negative and positive emotional episodes. A sample of 355 undergraduate students were asked to recall an important past-year interpersonal episode of joy anger and sadness. Participants reported how they regulated mood and emotions associated with those episodes filling in an expanded version of Larsen and Prizmic’s Measure of Affect Regulation Styles and also responded to measures of perceived attainment of adaptive goals for each emotional episode and psychological well-being. Affect regulation based on gratitude/self-reward reappraisal helping others and seeking informative and emotional social support showed similarly high frequencies in all emotional episodes. Problem-directed action and planning low withdrawal seeking instrumental social support reappraisal rumination active physiological regulation gratitude/self-reward acceptance/self-control and regulated emotional expression were related to perceived improvement in adaptive goals in all episodes. Seeking emotional and informative social support spiritual activities and humor were associated with adaptive goals in anger and joy. Suppression was dysfunctional in sadness and anger episodes whereas isolation was only in anger episode. Distraction wishful thinking venting and confrontation were functional only in joy episode. Overall these strategies were congruently associated with dispositional suppression and re-evaluation and psychological well-being. Regulation was globally higher in sadness and anger episodes but venting and expression of humor and affection were higher in joy. Correlations between affect regulation strategies and adaptive goals were stronger in joy. Regulation of positive emotion is discussed as less intense but more successful than in the case of negative emotion. However the core of adaptive regulation is importantly common to positive and negative affect.
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