Abstract：When people face negative events, emotion regulation is an important factor that can influence people’s adaptive results. There are different definitions and theories of emotion regulation, but all the theories have involved the cognitive components. Because of the decline in health and sense of control and the lack of coping resources, older people tend to use more cognitive emotion regulation rather than behavioral emotion regulation during stressful events. Cognitive emotion regulation refers to the conscious and cognitive way of managing the intake of emotionally arousing information and dealing with stress, which is very important for older adults. In this study, we chose the negative events in marriage as the stress situation, and tested the adaptability of cognitive emotion regulation strategies by using the depression and anxiety as emotional adaptive variables. Besides, we used the Cross-Lagged Regression Analysis to explore the causal link between the marital satisfaction and cognitive emotion regulation strategies. We assumed that marital satisfaction is the result of cognitive emotion regulation strategies.
There were 615 old adults with an average age of 67.48 (SD=5.08）who participated at the first time of investigation, 352 of whom assessed twice across 2 years. The measures included Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (Garnefski, Kraaij, & Spinhoven, 2001), Marital Satisfaction subscale (Olson, Fournier, & Druckman, 1983), 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (Burke, Roccaforte, & Wengel, 1991), 20-item Geriatric Anxiety Scale (Pachana et al, 2007) , demographic measures, cognitive abilities tests and quetionnaire of negative events in life. The SPSS 22.0 was used for data analysis.
The main findings were as follows: (1) the cognitive emotion regulation strategies including rumination, catastrophizing, acceptance, and putting into perspective positively predicted depression or anxiety among older adults; (2) the cognitive emotion regulation strategies at the first wave couldn’t predict marital satisfaction at the second wave, while marital satisfaction at the first wave could predict the blaming others and rumination at the second wave. The individuals who had lower marital satisfaction tended to use more strategies of blaming others and rumination.
This results indicated that when facing negative events in marriage, acceptance, rumination, putting into perspective, and catastrophizing would cause depression or anxiety for older adults. This results partly reflected the age specificity, since acceptance and putting into perspective are adaptive strategies for younger people. Besides, the prediction of marital satisfaction on cognitive emotion regulation strategies might imply that marital satisfaction are more stable than cognitive emotion regulation strategies for older couples.