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Positive Affect in Daily Life: Emotion Regulation and Depression
Emotion regulation has been linked to sustained negative affect in depression; yet, research on the regulation of positive emotion is scarce. Depressive symptoms have been linked to the infrequent use of regulatory strategies that serve to increase positive emotion (e.g., positive rumination) and the frequent use of strategies that down-regulate positive affect (e.g., dampening). These studies, however, almost exclusively rely on global, retrospective assessments of strategy use that are subject to a host of reporting biases and fail to capture the dynamics of emotion-emotion regulation interactions. In the current study, 110 individuals with varying levels of depressive symptoms participated in a 14-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study tracking within-person changes in regulatory strategy use and positive affect in daily life. Infrequent use of positive rumination and greater use of dampening predicted subsequent declines in positive emotion. Greater levels of depressive symptoms were associated with decreased engagement in positive rumination and increased use of dampening in response to positive affect. These findings show that depressive symptoms are associated with a pattern of emotion regulation that yields low levels of positive affect. Emotion regulation may therefore be a critical factor for understanding and improving positive affect in depression.