Do cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression mediate the effect of emotion motives on mood outcomes?
The present investigation was designed to assess whether the emotion regulation strategies of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal would mediate the relationships between emotion motives (trying to experience and trying to avoid experiencing positive and negative emotions) and mood outcomes (subjective happiness and depressive symptoms). A sample of 257 first-year psychology students completed questionnaires on emotion regulation and levels of subjective happiness and depressive symptom levels in a concurrent study. As predicted, trying to experience positive emotions positively predicted use of cognitive reappraisal, which, in turn, predicted greater levels of subjective happiness and lower levels of depressive symptoms and trying to avoid experiencing negative emotions positively predicted use of expressive suppression, which, in turn, predicted greater levels of depressive symptoms and lower levels of subjective happiness. In one other mediational pathway, the motive of trying to experience negative emotions positively predicted use of expressive suppression, which was associated with lower levels of subjective happiness and greater levels of depressive symptoms. These results add to the existing emotion regulation research literature by shedding light on what motivates the use of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. In sum, individuals’ hedonic motives encouraged adaptive emotion regulation efforts, whereas, individuals’ contra-hedonic motives encouraged the use of maladaptive emotion regulation efforts. These findings will be of assistance to clinicians in the development of interventions to improve emotion regulation problems in clients.