van de Loo, Kirsten
Emotional Clarity - Measurement, Training and its Role in Affect Regulation.
Technische Universität, Darmstadt
[Ph.D. Thesis], (2012)
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|Item Type:||Ph.D. Thesis|
|Title:||Emotional Clarity - Measurement, Training and its Role in Affect Regulation|
Emotional clarity as the ability to label, describe and distinguish among one’s own emotions has consistently been found to be beneficial for affect regulation, well-being and psychological health. Therefore, it has received certain attention in recent years. However, most research on emotional clarity has stuck to correlational analyses and self-report measures of trait emotional clarity so that knowledge of this concept is limited. Therefore, the present project aimed at a more comprehensive exploration of affective clarity by realizing experimental and quasi-experimental settings and utilizing self-report measures of trait and state clarity as well as more indirect instruments that do not rely on self-insight. With regard to the beneficial associations of emotional clarity, the first aim of this project was to develop training interventions to foster emotional clarity. The second aim of the dissertation was to explore the role of emotional clarity in affect regulation. An additional goal of this thesis was to develop alternative measures of affective clarity to the well-used self-report scale of trait experience.
This thesis consists of two parts: In part 1, a synopsis provides a theoretical introduction to the topic and the research aims, an overview of the four conducted studies and a summarizing discussion. Part 2 contains three original papers, which are outlined in the following.
Paper 1 presents two studies aiming at developing and evaluating trainings that enhance affective clarity. In study 1, a direct approach - an intervention training the skills defining clarity - and an indirect approach - a mindfulness training with formal and informal meditation exercises - were realized. Each training had a duration of one hour. In study 2, the indirect approach to train mindfulness and a second indirect approach to train self-reflection were implemented. These trainings were divided into two sessions of one and a half hours each. In both studies, the experimental interventions were compared with each other and with a control intervention. Interventions were evaluated with (a) self-report instruments of state and trait emotional clarity, (b) an indirect measure of emotional clarity, (c) certainty ratings, and (d) an emotion recognition test. In study 1, both experimental groups indicated significant changes within groups on different measures. In view of the very short training duration of one hour, this result gives tentative support to the idea that emotional clarity can be fostered by training. In study 2, neither of the experimental groups showed significant pre-post differences. This was mainly ascribed to the trainings’ focus on distress and its regulation rather than on emotional clarity. Thus, it seems promising to follow the approaches chosen in study 1. Future studies should profit from keeping the focus on emotional clarity, extending the training duration, working with volunteers, implementing diaries as intervention and evaluation instrument, and realizing a follow up-measurement some months after the interventions.
Papers 2 and 3 of this dissertation each report one quasi-experimental study exploring the role of emotional clarity in affect regulation. In both studies state emotional clarity and affective state were measured at the beginning of the experiment, right after an affect induction and after a recovery phase. Both variables were related to each other and trait emotional clarity. Paper 3 additionally investigated these relations after a re-induction. Whereas paper 2 engaged in anxiety that was induced by film, paper 3 dealt with global positive and negative affect in connection with the induction of negative affect through an ostensible intelligence test with unsolvable items. With regard to trait clarity, both studies confirmed previous research on individual differences. Persons with high trait clarity generally reported more positive affect and less negative affect and anxiety than persons with low trait clarity. Furthermore, high clarity persons demonstrated advantages in recovery from induced negative affect and anxiety compared to the low clarity persons. In contrast, no significant differences between persons high and low in trait emotional clarity were found in affective state after the induction and after the re-induction when prior affect ratings were controlled. With respect to state emotional clarity, both studies confirmed its positive relations to trait emotional clarity and positive affect and its negative associations with negative affect and anxiety. However, state clarity surprisingly hardly changed in the course of the experiment. Future studies should consider indirect instruments of state clarity that are not biased by global self-evaluations and therefore more sensitive to changes.
With regard to the alternative measures utilized in this thesis, the new self-report scales demonstrated adequate capability to distinguish between state and trait experience and were correlated with each other and measures of affect in the expected manner, but they did not prove sensitivity to changes. The new indirect measure captured marginal differences between groups in one study and was positively correlated to the self-report scales, but did not map changes. The certainty measure demonstrated convergent correlation to self-report clarity, mapped changes within one group, and moreover, is easy to apply.
In summary, this doctoral thesis provides some support to the idea that emotional clarity can be fostered by short training interventions. Especially, the direct approach to train the abilities defining emotional clarity and the indirect approach to foster mindfulness are worth further studying. Furthermore, the present dissertation presents new self-report scales of trait and state clarity and a new indirect measure of emotional clarity. Continuative research is necessary with regard to these instruments’ validity and sensitivity to changes. With respect to the role of emotional clarity in affect regulation, the present research confirmed the associations of emotional clarity to greater positive and lower negative affect as well as advantages in recovery from induced negative affect. Future studies with indirect measures of emotional clarity and multiple data points during the recovery phase should help to further explore the exact role of emotional clarity in the regulation process.
|Place of Publication:||Darmstadt|
|Uncontrolled Keywords:||emotional clarity, training, affect regulation, emotional reactivity, emotional recovery|
|Classification DDC:||100 Philosophie und Psychologie > 150 Psychologie|
|Divisions:||03 Department Human Sciences > Institute for Psychology|
|Date Deposited:||16 May 2012 12:23|
|Last Modified:||07 Dec 2012 12:04|
|Referees:||Schmitz, Prof. Dr. Bernhard and Perels, Prof. Dr. Franziska|
|Refereed:||14 March 2012|