Emotions under control? Better cognitive control is associated with reduced negative emotionality but increased negative emotional reactivity within individuals.
Number of pages
SourceBehaviour Research and Therapy, 173, (2024), article 104462
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
Behaviour Research and Therapy
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
Associations between impaired cognitive control and maladaptive emotion regulation have been extensively studied between individuals. However, it remains unclear if this relationship holds within individuals. In this study, we tested the assumption that momentary within-person fluctuation in cognitive control (working memory updating and response inhibition) is associated with emotional reactivity in everyday life. We conducted an experience sampling study (eight two-hourly prompts daily) where participants repeatedly performed short 2-back and Go/no-go tasks in daily life. We assessed negative and positive affective states, and unpleasantness of a recent event to capture emotional reactivity. We analyzed two overlapping samples: a Go/no-go and a 2-back dataset (N = 161/158). Our results showed that better momentary working memory updating was associated with decreased negative affect if the recent event was on average unpleasant for the given individual. However, better-than-average working memory updating in interaction with higher event-unpleasantness predicted higher negative affect levels (i.e., higher negative emotional reactivity). These findings may challenge the account of better cognitive control being universally related to adaptive emotion regulation. Although it is unlikely that emotional reactivity boosts working memory, future studies should establish the direction of causality.
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