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Test-retest reliability of voluntary emotion regulation


  • We thank Linda Johnson, Rajat Singh, and Katherine Bolton for data collection and scoring, and Anand Lakshmanan, Gina Beguhn, and Larry Grieschar for technical support. This study was supported by NIMH grants R37-MH43454, R01-MH43454, and P50-MH069315 to RJD, and Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies scholarship to HL.

Address reprint requests to: Hyejeen Lee or Richard J. Davidson, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail or


Despite growing interest in emotion regulation, the degree to which psychophysiological measures of emotion regulation are stable over time remains unknown. We examined four-week test-retest reliability of corrugator electromyographic and eyeblink startle measures of negative emotion and its regulation. Both measures demonstrated similar sensitivity to the emotion manipulation, but only individual differences in corrugator modulation and regulation showed adequate reliability. Startle demonstrated diminished sensitivity to the regulation instructions across assessments and poor reliability. This suggests that corrugator represents a trait-like measure of voluntary emotion regulation, whereas startle should be used with caution for assessing individual differences. The data also suggest that corrugator and startle might index partially dissociable constructs and underscore the need to collect multiple measures of emotion.