Affect regulation strategies and perceived emotional adjustment for negative and positive affect: A study on anger, sadness and joy

Darío Páez, Francisco Martínez-Sánchez, Andrés Mendiburo, Magdalena Bobowik, Verónica Sevillano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines affect regulation and adaptive goals with regard to negative and positive emotional episodes. A sample of 355 undergraduate students were asked to recall an important past-year interpersonal episode of joy, anger, and sadness. Participants reported how they regulated mood and emotions associated with those episodes, filling in an expanded version of Larsen and Prizmic's Measure of Affect Regulation Styles and also responded to measures of perceived attainment of adaptive goals for each emotional episode and psychological well-being. Affect regulation based on gratitude/self-reward, reappraisal, helping others, and seeking informative and emotional social support showed similarly high frequencies in all emotional episodes. Problem-directed action and planning, low withdrawal, seeking instrumental social support, reappraisal, rumination, active physiological regulation, gratitude/self-reward, acceptance/self-control and regulated emotional expression were related to perceived improvement in adaptive goals in all episodes. Seeking emotional and informative social support, spiritual activities, and humor were associated with adaptive goals in anger and joy. Suppression was dysfunctional in sadness and anger episodes, whereas isolation was only in anger episode. Distraction, wishful thinking, venting and confrontation were functional only in joy episode. Overall, these strategies were congruently associated with dispositional suppression and re-evaluation and psychological well-being. Regulation was globally higher in sadness and anger episodes, but venting and expression of humor and affection were higher in joy. Correlations between affect regulation strategies and adaptive goals were stronger in joy. Regulation of positive emotion is discussed as less intense but more successful than in the case of negative emotion. However, the core of adaptive regulation is importantly common to positive and negative affect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • emotional regulation
  • negative affect
  • positive affect
  • psychological well-being
  • regulation strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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