Identification and evaluation of cognitive affect regulation strategies: Development of a new self-report measure

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Adele M. Hayes - Committee Chair


People's ability to regulate their emotions is an important component of mental health and well being. To some extent, psychological disorder is defined by the presence of affect dysregulation. Despite the importance of affect regulation, relatively little is known about the cognitive strategies that people use when faced with acute negative affect, and the strategies that are effective in reducing such affect. This limitation in the literature may be due, in part, to the lack of a comprehensive measure of cognitive affect regulation strategies. Three studies were conducted to address this gap in current understanding of cognitive affect regulation. This work yielded a broad-based self-report measure of 15 specific strategies (e.g., thought suppression and mental distraction, reframing and growth, and acceptance). Results provide preliminary support for the psychometric adequacy of this measure. The new measure then was used in a laboratory study to examine which strategies were used and which were useful within a nonclinical population. Results suggest that when faced with acute negative affect, individuals used cognitive affect regulation strategies at low to moderate levels. Findings also demonstrate few differences in strategy use based on gender or history of depression. Finally, only one cognitive affect regulation strategy (thought suppression and mental distraction) was associated with a reduction in acute negative affect. This research provides a new tool for future investigations and represents an important starting point for the understanding of cognitive affect regulation.


Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Cognitive

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