2018  •   Physical and LIfe Sciences

Understanding Your Feelings: Emotional Granularity Influences on Coping

Lead Presenter: Hasanat Yusuf

Additional Presenters: Lillian Vo, Clara Karastury, Sophia Gunzburg, Madeleine Devlin, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Karen Quigley

PI: Hasanat Yusuf

Faculty Advisor: Madeleine Devlin

This study aims to investigate the relationship between emotional granularity and responses to daily negative affective experiences. Emotional granularity is the ability to put feelings into words with a high degree of specificity and precision. Low negative emotional granularity has been associated with stronger reactivity to negative affect and higher vulnerability to poor mental health. However, little is known about how negative emotional granularity impacts individual response to negative affective experiences in everyday life. To investigate this, we had participants complete an experience sampling study where they received prompts on a smartphone asking them to report on what they were doing and what they were feeling multiple times per day for 14 days. Participants also completed a survey at the end of each experience sampling day where they provided additional information about each prompt they had completed.  For example, participants rated how strongly they felt a variety of positive and negative emotions and how well they felt they could cope with whatever was going on at the time of each prompt. From these surveys, we were able to create a measure of negative emotional granularity and observe participants’ subjective experiences and perceived coping ability during emotionally evocative events. Based on past research, we hypothesized that low negative emotional granularity would be associated with maladaptive coping skills during negative affective experiences in everyday life. Our findings have potential implications for the development of novel psychological interventions involving emotional granularity training as a means of promoting healthier emotion-regulation strategies and behaviors.

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