Dispositional and Stressor-Related Emotion Regulation in the Context of a Chronic, Life-Limiting Stressor

Authors


  • This research was supported by funds from the California Breast Cancer Research Program of the University of California (10IB-0079) and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (to A. L. Stanton).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Annette L. Stanton, Department of Psychology, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563. Email: astanton@ucla.edu.

Abstract

In the context of efforts to regulate emotion during chronic stressors, both dispositional response tendencies (affect intensity, negative and positive expressivity) and stressor-related coping through emotional approach (processing and expressing emotions) are relevant to adjustment. In women with metastatic breast cancer (N = 103), contributions of self-reported emotional processing and expression related to cancer, as well as dispositional expressivity to adaptive outcomes across 3 months were examined. In the context of high dispositional expressivity, an increase in emotional expression predicted improvements in depressive symptoms and life satisfaction. Emotional processing at study entry predicted increased depressive symptoms and intrusive thoughts, and declining life satisfaction among highly expressive women. Increasing emotional processing predicted improved depressive symptoms in the context of high expressivity. Increases in emotional approach coping were associated with a more arduous cancer experience. Findings highlight the importance of the person-situation fit in linking emotion-related constructs to adjustment during unremitting stressors.

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