People vary in how they cope with negative events. Some people become immersed in repetitive ruminative thinking concerning the event, whereas others employ reappraisal and attempt to interpret the event in less negative ways. Interestingly, although both reappraisal and rumination involve active processing of negative situations rather than avoiding their affective value, these two strategies lead to opposite outcomes. Whereas rumination is maladaptive and is a risk factor for psychopathology, reappraisal is adaptive and has been linked to emotional well-being (for a meta-analysis see Aldao et al., 2010). In the current paper, we examine a shared process that may play a role in both rumination and reappraisal. We suggest that inhibition of irrelevant, negatively valenced information while pursuing a goal or performing a task underlies both rumination and reappraisal. We present correlational and causal findings linking impaired inhibition of negative content with reduced reappraisal and with increased tendency to ruminate. We postulate possible pathways for the links between inhibition of negative content and these two emotion regulation strategies.
- Emotion regulation
- Emotional stimuli