Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Field independence, somatic awareness, autonomic arousal, and emotion differentiation as predictors of emotion regulation

A thread of the growing literature on emotion and emotion regulation aims at understanding the psychological processes an individual uses to regulate emotion, and at identifying what characteristics and abilities are conducive to efficient emotion regulation. These studies have produced a growing list of emotion regulation correlates suggesting that a quality of self-awareness, the tendency to be attentive to self rather than surroundings, the ability to understand one’s feelings precisely, and recently the very specific ability to put exact words to one’s feelings are all positive predictors of emotion regulation. This study investigated whether the qualities described by earlier emotion regulation models were, in fact, related to the construct of field independence, a cognitive processing style characterized by the ability to separate and categorize information. We hypothesized that this style might result in an increased ability to describe sensations of autonomic arousal which would in turn predict more precise descriptions of emotional states. We hypothesized that this ability to differentiate emotional states would lead to improved overall emotion regulation as well as some of its subcomponents. In addition, we were interested in whether baseline body awareness was related to autonomic arousal and emotion regulation. The hypothesized mediational model was not supported; because our measure of autonomic arousal assessed overall intensity rather than differentiation of symptoms, the data could not adequately test the overall model. However, both baseline body awareness and field independence were found to independently predict improved overall emotion regulation and/or some of its subcomponents. The relationship between field independence and emotion regulation led us to examine the literature on executive attention which we discuss in the context of field independence. In addition, we discuss the implications of meditative practice on both constructs. Our results suggest that there may be multiple routes to emotion regulation. Future directions might include a cross-sectional comparison of multiple components of attention with field dependence/independence and with emotion regulation in adults. In addition, functional neuroimaging studies comparing field independence and components of attention would be of interest.