Measuring Regulation in the Here and Now: The Development and Validation of the State Emotion Regulation Inventory (SERI)

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Abstract

The relationship between context and emotion regulation is currently at the center of a burgeoning area of research. Commonly used emotion regulation questionnaires, however, are predominantly trait-based, and insensitive to situational choice of regulatory strategy. The current work describes the development and validation of the State Emotion Regulation Inventory (SERI), a brief measure of situational use of distraction, reappraisal, brooding and acceptance. In Study 1, an initial item pool was constructed, based on commonly used trait-based emotion regulation surveys. Then, the psychometric properties of the items were examined with a group of 181 participants who recalled a saddening autobiographical event, identified a distressing thought it triggered, and then waited for 3 minutes without instruction, as an opportunity to allow for spontaneous emotion regulation. Participants then completed the initial item pool, and other relevant trait-based scales. Exploratory factor analysis suggested a 4-factor solution, corresponding to the 4 regulatory strategies measured in the SERI. The 4 items to exclusively load highest on each factor were selected for the final measure. Assembled subscales correlated with relevant trait-based subscales in the expected directions. In Study 2, another sample of 155 participants completed the same procedure and the new SERI, and confirmatory factor analysis supported the 4-factor structure of this instrument. As a brief, validated instrument, the SERI may be a useful measure for studies of state emotion regulation, in protocols that use repeated measures in a single session, over the course of multiple sessions, or via ecological momentary assessments.

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