Emotion regulation in autism: Reappraisal and suppression interactions

Published May 2018
Emotion regulation has been proposed to be a transdiagnostic factor in the development and maintenance of psychopathology in the general population, yet the nature of the relationships between emotion regulation strategy use and psychological well-being has not been comprehensively explored in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this study was to assess how the individual differences in self-reported emotion regulation strategy use relate to levels of both positive and negative psychological well-being. In total, 56 individuals with ASD aged 14–24 years (Mage = 18.15; SDage = 2.30) completed Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Dimensional Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale and Autism-Spectrum Quotient – Short. Individuals were grouped into four clusters based on their Emotion Regulation Questionnaire subscale scores. Individuals in the high suppression and low reappraisal group expressed higher depressive symptoms and lower positive well-being when compared with the low suppression and high reappraisal group. Interestingly, individuals who self-reported using both high suppression and reappraisal expressed relatively high positive well-being and low depression symptoms. We suggest that the maladaptive effect of habitual suppression usage may be buffered by the habitual use of reappraisal, and this interaction between adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategy use has clinical implications.
Cai, R.Y, Richdale, A.L., Dissanayake, C., Trollor, J., & Uljarević, M. (2018). Emotion regulation in autism: Reappraisal and suppression interactions. Autism, early online. doi: 10.1177/1362361318774558.

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