Category: X - Other - Not Fitting Better Elsewhere
Background: Positive affect correlates positively with effective emotion regulation (ER) behaviors, and negatively with the behavioral suppression of negative emotions. Individual differences in behavioral motivation systems (behavioral inhibition system/BIS; behavioral activation system/BAS) may help clarify when the relation between positive affect and behavioral measures of emotion regulation is strongest. In the current study, we evaluate the BIS and BAS (BAS Reward Responsiveness subscale; BAS-RR) as moderators of the link between positive affect serenity and behavioral measures of emotion regulation.
Method: Eighty-eight participants (60 women; M=19.92 years) completed questionnaires assessing emotion regulation, including the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; expressive suppression) and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS Goal-Directedness). Additionally, participants completed measures of positive affect (PANAS-X: serenity subscale) and the BIS and BAS-RR measures of behavioral motivation.
Results: Regression analyses tested the moderating effect of the BIS and BAS-RR on the relation between serenity and two facets of behavioral emotion regulation: DERS Goal-Directedness and ERQ expressive suppression. We found an interaction between serenity and BIS predicting DERS Goal-Directedness. There was no association between serenity and difficulties with goal-directed behavior for participants with higher BIS scores; however, for those lower in BIS, as serenity increased, problems with ER-related goal-directedness decreased, t(87) = - 3.21, p = .002, b = - .77. Next, there was a significant interaction such that for those lower in BAS-RR, habitual use of expressive suppression increased as serenity increased, t(87) = 2.64, p = .01, b = .77. There was no relation between serenity and use of expressive suppression for participants scoring higher in BAS-RR.
Conclusions: Results suggest that serenity in those with low behavioral inhibition may be a protective factor against difficulties in carrying out goal-directed behavior while regulating emotions. Additionally, serenity in those with low behavioral activation may contribute to greater behavioral suppression of emotions. Future studies should evaluate the manipulation of low arousal positive affect in those with low behavioral activation and inhibition systems as a means to facilitate effective behavioral regulation of emotions.