ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (12): 1393-1406.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.01393

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Emotion regulation strategy of self-focused and situation-focused reappraisal and their impact on subsequent cognitive control

SUN Yan(), LV Jiaojiao, LAN Fan, ZHANG Lina   

  1. School of Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
  • Published:2020-12-25 Online:2020-10-27
  • Contact: SUN Yan


It is important to explore the relationship between emotion regulation and cognitive control for a better understanding of diseases involving emotional control failure. Cognitive reappraisal is the most effective and commonly used emotion regulation strategy to improve individual emotional state. Will it consume cognitive resources needed for subsequent cognitive control tasks? The results of previous studies on this issue are not consistent. The reason may be that previous studies treated reappraisal as a single strategy, and did not distinguish subtypes of reappraisal to explore this issue. Reappraisal can be divided into self-focused and situation-focused reappraisal. According to previous studies, this two reappraisal strategies may have different effects on subsequent cognitive control tasks. However, there has been no direct experimental comparison on this issue.
In this study, self-focused reappraisal (n = 23) and situation-focused reappraisal (n = 26) were used to investigate whether to increase or decrease negative emotion had different effects on subsequent cognitive control tasks. All participants completed a cross- combination paradigm of cognitive reappraisal and Stroop task. Event-related potential (ERP) was used to assess the effectiveness of emotion regulation (late positive potential, LPP) during the reappraisal phase, as well as to assess the cognitive resource (P300) and cognitive control (sustained potential, SP) during the Stroop task.
The results showed that both reappraisal strategies could effectively regulate emotion at the level of subjective reporting. In addition, on the level of arousal, increase negative > view negative > decrease negative > watch neutral, as opposite to the valence rating. Furthermore, EEG results of the reappraisal stage showed that self-focused reappraisal would trigger larger LPP amplitude than situation-focused reappraisal whether it increased or decreased negative emotion. This proved that situation-focused reappraisal was more effective than self-focused reappraisal when negative emotion was decreased. On the contrary, self-focused reappraisal was more effective than situation-focused reappraisal when negative emotion was increased. Compared with the three emotion regulation conditions that appeared in negative stimulus pictures, the interference scores of accuracy for viewing neutral picture were significantly greater. While, compared with the other three emotion regulation conditions, the P300 interference score of increases negative emotion was significantly smaller. The difference of the SP amplitude under the situation-focused reappraisal incongruent condition minus the congruent condition was higher than the self-focused reappraisal. It might be considered the SP amplitude interference score of situation-focused reappraisal was more positive than that of self-focused reappraisal.
In conclusion, the results of this study indicated that (1) self-focused reappraisal and situation-focused reappraisal could effectively regulate emotion, while the regulating effects were different. (2) compared to neutral stimuli, negative stimuli trigger higher levels of negative emotion and subsequent poorer cognitive control of conflicting tasks from behavioral perspective. (3) compared with watching and decreasing negative emotion, increasing negative emotion may further deplete the available cognitive resources for subsequent tasks at the level of neural mechanisms. Furthermore, situation-focused reappraisal had a greater impact on cognitive control of subsequent conflict tasks after decreasing negative emotion than self-focused reappraisal.

Key words: emotion regulation, self-focused reappraisal, situation-focused reappraisal, cognitive control, event-related potential