ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 601-612.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00601

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Cognitive reappraisal inventiveness in emotion regulation

YAO Haijuan1(), WANG Qi2, LI Zhaoqing3,1   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Tianjin University of Commerce, Tianjin 300134, China
    2Faculty of Psychology, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
    3School of Educational Science, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241000, China
  • Received:2021-04-14 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: YAO Haijuan


Emotion regulation is an essential ability to maintain individual mental health and life happiness. Cognitive reappraisal is one of the most effective emotion regulation strategies. Cognitive reappraisal inventiveness is a central component of the generation process in the context of cognitive reappraisal. It is the ability to create multiple and different reappraisals for negative situations. The total number and diversity of cognitive reappraisal strategies produced by individuals in cognitive reappraisal (i.e., the fluency and flexibility of cognitive reappraisal strategies) are taken as indicators of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness. A high creative cognitive reappraisal is an effective premise for ensuring individual emotional regulation.

Here, we review recent studies on cognitive reappraisal inventiveness. A large body of research demonstrates that inventiveness in cognitive reappraisal is positively correlated with divergent thinking and openness, but not with neuroticism and trait anger. Creative cognitive reappraisal strategies, or high-level cognitive reconstruction using metaphor and analogy, are more conducive to the regulation of negative emotions, and the superior regulatory effect of creative cognitive reappraisal can be mediated by amygdala-based salient emotional arousal, hippocampus-based new association formation, and striatum-based mental rewarding to produce to a novel and positive experience that can be kept in long-term memory. These results are consistent with the creative reconstruction theory of cognitive reappraisal. The theory holds that an individual’s response to negative situations comes not from the event itself, but from their view of the event. Emotional situations are viewed as problems that can be solved by a variety of reappraisal styles. To regulate negative emotions, it is necessary to produce a novel and effective psychological representation of the emotional situation or event, modifying the initial maladaptive representation. Creative individuals may be more likely to find effective reappraisals. However, other studies claim that there is no correlation between cognitive reappraisal inventiveness and reappraisal effectiveness. Thus, no consistent conclusion about the relationship between cognitive reappraisal inventiveness and reappraisal effectiveness has yet been reached.

By comparing the neural mechanisms of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness (using the Reappraisal Inventiveness Test, RIT) and traditional creativity (using the Alternative Use Test, AUT), it was found that both, the RIT and AUT, exhibited a comparatively strong increase in alpha power at prefrontal sites, indicating that they have similar brain activation patterns; however, the activation degree of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness is higher in the middle region of the prefrontal cortex, whereas the activation degree of traditional creativity is higher in the ventral prefrontal apex region. The regions of brain activation of the two forms of creativity overlap primarily in the right cerebellum, central anterior gyrus, central posterior gyrus, and anterior cingulate cortex, especially in the left prefrontal network. Cognitive reappraisal inventiveness activates the right superior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, right middle temporal gyrus, and left and right angular gyrus. Traditional creativity tasks primarily activate the left superior frontal gyrus, left inferior temporal gyrus, and left inferior frontal gyrus. This shows that traditional creativity and cognitive reappraisal inventiveness have common cognitive processing needs, including inhibiting strong responses, switching between different perspectives, and controlling memory retrieval; however, the process of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness requires the specific executive function of emotional representation.

Future research may expand the group of participants by selecting participants with emotional disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety disorders), improve the measurement methods of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness, explore the situational and internal factors that affect cognitive reappraisal inventiveness (e.g., positive metaphor, trait anxiety, self-efficacy, and humorous personality), and further reveal how the neural mechanisms of the special process, or reaction mechanism of cognitive reappraisal inventiveness, differ from traditional creativity.

Key words: emotion regulation, cognitive reappraisal, cognitive reappraisal inventiveness, creativity

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