Effects of Cognitive Control Training on the Dynamics of (Mal)Adaptive Emotion Regulation in Daily Life

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Abstract

Cognitive control plays a key role in both adaptive emotion regulation, such as positive reappraisal, and maladaptive emotion regulation, such as rumination, with both strategies playing a major role in resilience and well-being. As a result, cognitive control training (CCT) targeting working memory functioning may have the potential to reduce maladaptive emotion regulation and increase adaptive emotion regulation. The current study explored the effects of CCT on positive reappraisal ability in a lab context, and deployment and efficacy of positive appraisal and rumination in daily life. A sample of undergraduates (n = 83) was allocated to CCT or an active control condition, performing 10 online training sessions over a period of 14 days. Effects on regulation of affective states in daily life were assessed using experience sampling over a 7-day posttraining period. Results revealed a positive association between baseline cognitive control and self-reported use of adaptive emotion regulation strategies, whereas maladaptive emotion regulation strategies showed a negative association. CCT showed transfer to working memory functioning on the dual n-back task. Overall, effects of CCT on emotion regulation were limited to reducing deployment of rumination in low positive affective states. However, we did not find beneficial effects on indicators of adaptive emotion regulation. These findings are in line with previous studies targeting maladaptive emotion regulation but suggest limited use in enhancing adaptive emotion regulation in a healthy sample.

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