Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michael E. McCullough

Second Committee Member

Matthias Siemer

Third Committee Member

Patrice G. Saab

Fourth Committee Member

Sheri L. Johnson

Fifth Committee Member

Suzanne C. Lechner


Heart rate variability (HRV), a physiological marker of autonomic nervous system (ANS) engagement, has been associated with a wide variety of clinical and psychological processes. High frequency (HF) HRV power, specifically, has been linked with the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and self-regulation. The current inquiry used a random effects growth model to study the HF HRV response to an emotional task and to predict individual differences in HF HRV as a function of trait hostility, neuroticism, and emotion regulation strategies (e.g., positive reappraisal, positive refocusing). Results indicated that the task engaged both branches of the ANS. HF HRV was not related to either hostility or neuroticism. However, positive reappraisal was associated with both high baseline values of HF HRV (i.e., greater initial parasympathetic activation) and lower rates of reactivity (i.e., less parasympathetic withdrawal). Overall, these results add to the evidence that positive reappraisal is a powerful component of emotion regulation and may be an important intervention target.


Parasympathetic Nervous System; Personality; Hostility; Neuroticism; Autobiographical Paradigm; Vagal Tone; Heart Rate Variability; Positive Reappraisal; Emotion Regulation