Integration of Negative Emotional Experience Versus Suppression: Addressing the Question of Adaptive Functioning Academic Article uri icon


  • Integrative emotion regulation is defined as the ability to experience negative emotions, explore their sources, and use this exploration for volitional regulation of behavior. Empirical research on integrative regulation is quite scarce and relies mainly on self-reports. The present research comprised 2 studies exploring the behavioral, emotional, and cognitive consequences of integrative emotion regulation and suppression of emotion, in relation to a fear-eliciting film. Study 1 examined associations between emotion regulation types (self-reported) and defensive versus nondefensive emotional processing (coded from postfilm open-ended written texts) in 80 Israeli college students. In Study 2, we manipulated the emotion regulation types by assigning 120 Israeli college students to integrative, suppressive, and control (neutral) conditions and exposing them twice to the same fear-eliciting film, 72 hr apart. We hypothesized that in the second exposure to the film, participants who were instructed to practice integrative regulation would benefit more than participants in the other 2 groups in terms of lower arousal level related to an experience of fear (measured by skin conductance, physical observation, and self-report) and better cognitive capacity (on a recall test). In general, the results supported our hypotheses. In comparison to suppression, integrative regulation was associated with less defensive written expression in the first study and with lower arousal and better cognitive recall in the second study. Hence, current outcomes provide some support for the assumption that taking interest in and accepting one's negative emotions is linked with less defensive processing of negative experiences and with better functioning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

publication date

  • January 1, 2014