The regulatory effect of choice in Situation Selection reduces experiential, exocrine and respiratory arousal for negative emotional stimulations

Abstract

Situation selection is a seldom studied emotion regulation strategy that entails choosing an upcoming emotional situation. Two mechanisms may drive its regulatory effect on emotional responses. One relates to the evaluation of the chosen option, people generally selecting the most positive. The other one implies that having the choice regarding the upcoming emotional situation is already regulatory, independently of what we choose. This research aimed at investigating this latter hypothesis. In a within-subject design, we compared emotional responses of 65 participants when they viewed negative and positive images they could select (use of Situation selection) vs. when they were imposed the exact same images (Situation selection not used). Results show that having the choice in negative contexts decreased negative experience, skin conductance, and respiration reactivity, while enhancing expressivity and cardiovascular reactivity. In positive contexts, choosing generally reinforced the image calming effect. Thus, contrary to other strategies that are efficient for negative but usually impair positive reactions (e.g., distraction), Situation selection may be used widely to reduce negative experience, while avoiding depletion of positive responses. This is particularly notable in emotion experience. Remarkably, these effects are not driven by the content of the situations, but by the act of choosing itself.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12626-7

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Thuillard2017TheRE, title={The regulatory effect of choice in Situation Selection reduces experiential, exocrine and respiratory arousal for negative emotional stimulations}, author={Simon Thuillard and Elise S. Dan-Glauser}, booktitle={Scientific reports}, year={2017} }