Scientific article

The Eyes Have It: The Role of Attention in Cognitive Reappraisal of Social Stimuli

Published inEmotion, vol. 14, no. 5, p. 833-839
Publication date2014

Cognitive reappraisal (CR) is a commonly used emotion-regulation strategy that has been shown to influence affective, cognitive, and social outcomes. Although progress has been made in elucidating the mechanisms underlying CR, the role of attention remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the role of attention in CR by tracking participants' gazes during the presentation of videos depicting people in negative moods. Participants were asked to attend naturally or to use reappraisal to increase or decrease their emotions while viewing the videos. After each video, they rated their negative emotion experience. Results showed that participants spent more time looking at the emotional regions in the target's face (eyes and mouth) when asked to up-regulate their emotions, compared with when they simply attended to the videos. The reverse pattern was found for down-regulation of emotions. In addition, the effects of cognitive reappraisal on negative emotion experience were mediated by the time spent looking at the emotional regions, with a stronger effect for the down-regulation instruction. Finally, direct effects of regulation instruction on negative emotion were observed even when controlling for time spent viewing emotional regions, which suggests that attention and CR are distinct components that uniquely influence negative emotions. These results complement and extend previous findings on the role of attention in CR, and highlight the importance of taking attentional mechanisms into account when designing CR training. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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Citation (ISO format)
MANERA, Valeria et al. The Eyes Have It: The Role of Attention in Cognitive Reappraisal of Social Stimuli. In: Emotion, 2014, vol. 14, n° 5, p. 833–839. doi: 10.1037/a0037350
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1528-3542

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