Implementation Intentions and The Strategic Automation of Emotion Regulation
In 2009 Schweiger Gallo, Keil, Gollwitzer, Rockstroh and McCulloch (Schweiger Gallo et al., 2009) published another study that was conducted to address the effectiveness of implementation intentions in regulating emotional reactivity.
The study required that disgust (Study 1) and fear (Study 2) eliciting stimuli were viewed by participants subject to three different self-regulation instructions:
- The simple goal intention not to experience fright or disgust ("I will not get frightened")
- The first goal intention, with an additional implementation intention ("And if I see a spider, I will stay calm and relaxed")
- A no-self-regulation control group
Disgust was selected because it is almost universally considered to be a basic emotion in the literature. Fear was selected because anxiety disorders, such as panic disorders or phobias, are common and affect the life of many people. The participants reported on the intensity of the elicited emotions by rating experienced arousal. Only implementation intention participants succeeded in reducing their disgust and fear reactions compared to the other groups.
These results support the idea that self-regulation by simple goal intentions runs into problems when immediate and strong emotional reactivity has to be down-regulated, whereas implementation intentions appear to be an effective tool of self-regulation.
Read more about this topic: Implementation Intention
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