Research Projects

Personality and emotion regulation efficiency

Because of social rules and individual preferences, most emotions are regulated. While abnormal emotion frequency or intensity are symptoms of most psychopathologies, functional emotion regulation (ER) leads to better health, well-being, and adaptation. Thus, understanding in which conditions ER strategies are best working is of crucial importance. ER strategies have often been categorized as adaptive or maladaptive per se, but the present project postulates that the efficiency of a particular strategy may also depend on characteristics of the person who is performing the ER. This project questions whether personality conditions emotional reactivity and the selection, implementation and efficiency of ER strategies. We suppose that both adaptive and maladaptive personality traits will impact the unfolding of unregulated and regulated emotion processes.

Personality and appraisal processes

Appraisal processes are important in the emergence of emotions, bridging the gap between a particular situation and the emotion responses that are consequently triggered. In this project, we start from the indications of past litterature that personality conditions emotional reactions and we hypothesized that this is mediated by appraisals that are differentially important according to personality features. In our studies, we examine the Big Five model of personality, as well as the Maladaptive Personality Trait Model from the DSM-V.

Refocusing on planning for regulating emotion: a link to obsessive-compulsive symptoms?

In this project, we focus on the cognitive emotion regulation strategy of “refocusing on planning”, proposed by Garnefski and colleagues (2001), which consists in thinking about which action to take, which will indirectely manage our negative emotions. This planning strategy has been linked to optimism, self-esteem and anxiety, but we do not know to what extent its effectiveness may depend on other elements, such as obsessive-compulsive symptoms, for example. We work with a dimensional view of obsessions and compulsions, ranging from an adaptive level, present in the average person, to a pathological level, characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorders.
We make the general hypothesis that the different dimensions present in obsessions and compulsions could be related to a greater use of the planning emotional regulation strategy.

Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Synchrony

Emotional intelligence encompasses those traits that make it easier or harder for an individual to process emotional material and control the resulting emotion. Previous research has described the dispositions that might be involved in optimal emotional management. However, at this point, we do not know which facets of emotional intelligence, or their combination, modulate responsiveness, coherence and emotion regulation in the most effective way. Our research aims to examine the consequences of the characteristics of emotional intelligence on emotional reactivity, coherence and regulation.

Creativity and reappraisal

Reappraisal consists in reevaluating an emotional situation in order for it to be less emotional and therefore helping us regulate our emotions. It is considered as one of the most efficient emotion regulation strategy. However, it requires many ressources like the ability to construct alternative explanations for a situation. We hypothesize that the use and efficiency of reappraisal is conditionned by the creativity level of an individual, assuming that creativity allows for the imagination of many alternative explanations that could be used for reappraising a situation. On the contrary, a low level of creativity impede successfull reappraisal, the individual not having the essential ressource to evaluating the situation in a different manner than the original interpretation.

Efficiency of situation selection

Efficient emotion regulation permits better adaptation to emotional life and daily situations. Situation selection is a particular emotion regulation strategy that entails choosing an upcoming emotional situation. Two mechanisms may drive the regulatory effect of Situation selection on emotional responses. The first mechanism simply relates to the evaluation of the characteristics of the chosen option, people generally selecting the more positive situation. The second mechanism is linked to the hypothesis that having the choice regarding the upcoming emotional situation (independently of what we choose) would already be regulatory. Our research aims at investigating this latter hypothesis. Our first results show that contrary to other strategies that are efficient for negative situations but usually impair positive reactions (e.g., distraction), Situation selection may be efficient in all contexts. Remarkably, these effects are not driven by the content of the situations, but by the power of the choice itself.

Publication: Thuillard, S., & Dan-Glauser, E. (2017). The regulatory effect of choice in situation selection reduces experiential, exocrine and respiratory arousal for negative emotional stimulations. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 12626. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12626-7

Emotion reaction to illusory choice

With the project “Efficiency of situation selection”, we have shown that the unique fact of being given the choice regarding upcoming emotional situations can already have a beneficial effect in terms of emotion regulation. However, as already proposed by research on preferences, denial of choice generally makes people upset. However, its direct consequences on emotion responses, particularly when choice is a way to regulate emotion, have never been investigated. With this project, we aim at uncovering how illusory choice impacts emotion unfolding in order to frame the circumstances in which situation selection can be implemented in different settings. If the impact is heavily deleterious, then implementation will need to get rid of any likelihood of illusory choice occurrence. Conversely, if the impact has no significant consequences, implementation could tolerate more illusory choice.

Publication: Thuillard, S., & Dan-Glauser, E. S. (2020). Efficiency of Illusory Choice Used as a Variant of Situation Selection for Regulating Emotions: Reduction of Positive Experience But Preservation of Physiological Downregulation. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. doi: 10.1007/s10484-020-09484-x

Differential effect of distraction and reappraisal in trait-anxiety

Distraction, i.e., redirecting attention away from affective stimuli, and reappraisal, i.e., cognitively reinterpreting the triggering emotional situation, are well-investigated emotion regulation strategies. Both have well-known differential effects on emotion responses, reappraisal being often considered as a more adaptive strategy. Indeed, it generally triggers more reduction in negative emotion responses, particularly in the expressive and physiological domain, which are often left unaffected by distraction. However, reappraisal is supposed to be a cognitively demanding strategy, which needs available resource. In this project, we make the hypothesis that reappraisal and distraction may not have the same effect for population with different trait characteristic, for example regarding trait-anxiety.

Publication: Efinger, L., Thuillard, S., & Dan-Glauser, E. S. (2019). Distraction and Reappraisal Efficiency on Immediate Negative Emotional Responses: Role of Trait Anxiety. Anxiety Stress and Coping. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2019.1597859

Yoga practice and affective reactivity

Yoga practice is supposed to enhance wellbeing and counteract psychopathology through superior emotion reactivity and regulation strategies. Yet, given the knowledge from yogic wisdom, we can also reason that emotional responses are less pronounced with longer and more frequent practice. With this project, we aim to disentangle this issue and highlight the specific effect of yoga practice (determined for example by its duration and frequency) on emotional reactivity. Our major goal is to identify stable and substantial changes yoga practitioners encounter in the way they engage in emotional situation and react to them.

Publication: Mocanu, E., Mohr, C., Pouyan, N., Thuillard, S., & Dan-Glauser, E. S. (2018). Reasons, Years and Frequency of Yoga Practice: Effect on Emotion Response Reactivity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 264. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00264