Emotion regulation and childhood memory: elaboration in narrative construction

Understanding how emotion regulation varies may educate caregivers to facilitate children to better cope with stressful experiences in order to prevent future long term mental problems. The purpose of this study was to examine how habitual use of specific emotion regulation strategies will impact people's construction of personal narratives. Two interview sessions asked about childhood positive and negative memories. Questionnaires were distributed after the interview to assess typical emotion regulation strategy use of suppression and reappraisal. Coherence and level of detail in narratives were coded by 3 trained coders. Number of emotional words were analyzed by using LIWC software. It was found that childhood positive events were described more coherently and using more details than childhood negative events. No significant interaction effects were found between valence and emotion regulation strategies on the dependent variables. The lack of significant effects of emotion regulation strategies on narrative quality may be due to low power because of the small sample size. Based on the trends apparent when plotting the data, it seemed that engaging more in both suppression and reappraisal were associated with fewer emotional words used for negative childhood memories, but no effect for positive childhood memories. It is still important to examine the relationship between emotion regulation strategies and narrative construction.