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Strategies People Employ For Regulating Emotions Affect Memory For Event According To A New Study Attempting to control ones reactions to an event has cognitive costs that weaken memory The way people go about controlling their reactions to emotional events affects their memory of the event according to new research published in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published by the American Psychological Association APA That people can regulate the inner experience and outer expression of emotions is well documented in the psychological literature Psychologists Jane M Richards PhD of University of Washington and James J Gross PhD of Stanford University sought to learn whether such efforts to control emotion have cognitive consequences Their research was designed to answer two specific questions Does emotion regulation lead people to remember events differently than if they had not attempted to control their reactions And if emotional regulation does have discernible cognitive consequences are these consequences the same for all forms of emotion regulation Drs Richards and Gross suggest that there are many ways to regulate ones emotions but that some ways of doing so may be particularly likely to impair ones ability to remember the details of an upsetting event They believed that regulation strategies that occurred before the event such as reappraisal or cognitive reframing looking at a potentially emotional situation as a challenge rather than a threat would have different cognitive demands than a strategy that was employed during the event such as emotional suppression They believe that expressive suppression keeping a stiff upper lip requires continual self-monitoring and self-correction which uses cognitive resources and therefore decreases the accuracy of the memory of the event In contrast the authors speculate entering into a situation after having construed it in less emotional terms should preempt a full-blown response and thus eliminate the need for continual self-regulation leaving memory for the details of the events that
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