International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 14 Num. 1 - March 2014


The Effect of Emotion Regulation Strategies on Physiological and Self-report Measures of Anxiety During a Stress-inducing Academic Task

Volume 14 Num. 1 - March 2014 - Pages 1-15


Christopher J. Wilson , Yvonne Barnes-Holmes , Dermot Barnes-Holmes


Recent research suggests that psychological acceptance and mindfulness are useful strategies for dealing with anxiety. Some studies have shown that the benefits are found mainly with subjective and not physiological measures of anxiety -and vice versa. We investigated differences in skin conductance level as a proxy of anxiety in 80 participants at three time-points: at baseline and then during a stress-inducing task presented both before and after exposure to an emotional regulation strategy. Self-report measures of relaxation and anxiety were also recorded. Participants were exposed to one of four strategies (Acceptance, Mindfulness, Suppression and Endurance) or a control condition. Participants in the Acceptance strategy showed a slight decrease in arousal from pre- to post-intervention, while all other groups showed an increase. Post-hoc analysis revealed a statistically-significant difference between the Acceptance and Control conditions. All conditions showed an increase in self-reported anxiety. The results indicate that Acceptance might be useful strategy for reducing physiological symptoms of anxiety. The limitations of this study are indicated and the need for further studies emphasized.

Key words:

psychological acceptance, thought suppression, mindfulness, anxiety, skin conductance, task anxiety.

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