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Abstract

Research on emotion regulation (ER) has largely focused upon two related lines of inquiry: ER frequency and ER success. First, research on ER frequency has focused upon the relationship between how often individuals attempt to use ER strategies in everyday life which is typically measured by subjective reports on questionnaires and interpreted as trait ER. Second, research on ER success has focused on the degree to which experimentally instructed use of different strategies results in change of one or more measures of affect as measured by relatively objective measures. Therefore, distinctions between ER frequency and success are very often confounded by time scale (ER frequency measured in the long-term, ER success measured in the short-term) and methods (ER frequency measured with subjective questionnaires, ER success measured with more objective affective variables). I offer examples from the literature on ER and offer suggestions for ways to uncouple ER frequency and success from the methods that are currently being used to measure them. Clarity on the distinction between these constructs should lead to the most appropriate interpretation of results from current studies and more precisely inform clinical interventions that target one or more ER process.