This project investigates people’s emotional experiences in daily life, how these emotional experiences change in response to everyday events and social interactions, and how people seek to manage their everyday emotional experiences. The aim of this study is to build on previous research by investigating new aspects of emotional experience and management, as well as using more fine-grained measurement approaches. When we manage our emotions, a process termed emotion regulation, we try to change how we feel to how we want to feel, using various strategies. Emotion regulation can be personal, which involves regulating our own emotional states using self-directed strategies. Emotion regulation can also be interpersonal, which involves regulating one’s own emotional states with input from other people or regulating other people’s emotional states. This project investigates (a) how people individually regulate their own emotions (personal emotion regulation); (b) how people interpersonally regulate their own and others’ emotions (interpersonal emotion regulation); and (c) best practices for measuring emotions and emotion regulation in everyday life.
Research Questions / Hypotheses
This research project is being conducted by a team of researchers, including 8 fourth-year psychology students, and is therefore designed to address a number of distinct research questions / hypotheses relating to (inter)personal emotion regulation, emotion dynamics, and the assessment of emotions in daily life. The specific research questions are all related to the following three key themes:
- What strategies do people use to regulate their own emotions in daily life?
- What strategies do people use to regulate other people’s emotions in daily life?
- How do methodological factors (such as the type of items used to assess emotional state) influence the measurement of emotions in everyday life?
138 participants signed up for the study via the REP. Of this number, 86 participants fully completed Part 1 of our study and 78 completed Part 2 of the study. As the per the advertised inclusion/exclusion criteria, participants were excluded if they were not residing in AEST time-zone; did not have an iPhone (iOS 8 and above) or Android (6.0 and above, except Oppo, Huawei or Realme) phone; were not willing/able to install the SEMA3 app; were not available to complete Parts 1 and 2 of the study. Participants were excluded from Part 2 if they failed a pre-specified number of attention-checks during Part 1.
For Part 1, participants were asked to complete an online survey (approx. 30 minutes) comprising various self-report questionnaires assessing individual differences in personality, well-being, habitual use of emotion regulation strategies, and labelling of emotions. For Part 2, participants downloaded the SEMA3 smartphone app, which was programmed to send them several short experience sampling surveys (approx. 2-3 minutes each) over 7 days.
Results are not yet available as data collection is ongoing. However, our preliminary descriptive statistics indicate that participants completed approximately 70% of all scheduled smartphone surveys. Because the smartphone survey data are nested (momentary smartphone surveys nested within people), we will analyse data using multilevel models (e.g., using the lme4 and/or nlme R packages; and/or using Mplus).
We anticipate that this research will be beneficial to the wider community. Emotion regulation is thought to be central to psychological and social functioning. Understanding the emotion regulation process more fully is important in applied settings and to eventual therapeutic interventions. Finally, participants may benefit directly by participating in this research as they may gain insight into their own experience and regulation of emotions in daily life. We aim to increase this potential benefit by providing participants with the opportunity for a personalised report of their responses (in Part 2), which will allow them to reflect on their own responses across the week. Participants in our previous studies have found this very beneficial.