Category: Comorbidity - Anxiety and Other

Symposium

Meta-Emotions in Daily Life: Associations With Emotional Awareness and Depressive Severity

Saturday, November 18
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Aqua Salon E & F, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Emotion | Ecological Momentary Assessment | Depression
Presentation Type: Symposium

Researchers have theorized that meta-emotions, or emotions that occur in response to other emotions (e.g., guilt about anger), are an important component of emotional experience. Given that preliminary evidence indicates depression is associated with a greater likelihood of meta-emotions, our understanding of depression could be increased by further exploring meta-emotions, including how regularly they are experienced and their association with other facets of emotional experience. In the present study, we aimed to establish norms for meta-emotions and examine both within- and between-person factors that are associated with their occurrence. For within-person factors, we examined whether increased attention to and clarity of emotions were associated with a greater likelihood of meta-emotions. For a between-person factor, we examined whether negative emotions about negative emotions (i.e., negative-negative meta-emotional experiences) were associated with depressive severity. An adult sample (n=79) completed seven days of experience sampling and a self-report measure of depression severity. At each survey, participants indicated the extent to which they were attending to and clear about their emotions, and reported any momentary meta-emotional experiences. Meta-emotional experiences were categorized as negative-negative, negative-positive, positive-positive or negative-negative. Approximately 53% of participants reported at least one meta-emotional experience. On average meta-emotions were reported about twice a week; negative-negative experiences were most frequent. Using multi-level modeling, we found that attention to emotion, but not clarity of emotions, was associated with the likelihood of having a meta-emotion. Higher depressive severity was associated with more frequent experience of meta-emotions and specifically negative-negative experiences. Findings indicate that most adults experience meta-emotions, especially during moments of high attention to emotion. Importantly, the present findings expand the depression literature, suggesting that meta-emotions, not just cognitive judgments of emotions, are indicative of depressive symptomatology.

Natasha M. Haradhvala

Doctoral Student
Washington University in St. Louis

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