Assessing emotional evaluation: a validation study of the reactions to emotions questionnaire
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This study describes the development and validation of the Reactions to Emotions Questionnaire (REQ), a measure that assesses individuals' evaluation of themselves when experiencing various core emotions. A primary aim of the current study was to explore the predictive validity of the REQ; specifically, whether scores on the measure predict recovery time following a distressing event. Participants engaged in a negative mood induction to induce a sense of disappointment or failure. Emotional arousal was assessed with physiological measurements and self-report of mood. Cognitive arousal was measured with a task that compared time to recognize words related to the negative mood induction with time to recognize neutral words. It was hypothesized that individuals who have a relatively accepting stance towards their emotions (as measured by the REQ) will have a quicker return to baseline levels of emotional arousal and will be less cognitively primed following the negative mood induction than individuals who have a more judgmental stance towards their emotions. Analyses indicated that emotional evaluation was not a significant predictor of emotional or cognitive arousal following the negative mood induction. The level of arousal between individuals with either accepting or judgmental emotional evaluations did not differ following the failure manipulation. A separate hypothesis addressed the REQ's construct validity by predicting that scores on the REQ subscales would be moderately correlated with scores on questionnaires assessing ideas related to emotional evaluation. This hypothesis was supported, as the REQ was moderately correlated with measures of constructs such as self-esteem, acceptance of emotional experiences, and emotional expression. It was negatively correlated with measures of guilt, rumination, and suppression of emotions. A secondary focus of the study was the relationship between emotional evaluation, emotion expression, and attachment style. Attachment theory is one conceptualization of the etiology of emotional evaluation and emotion expression style, and a proposed model depicting the relationship between these three constructs is described. First-order correlations and a canonical correlation analysis were conducted between the attachment styles outlined by Bartholomew (1994), tendency to inhibit emotions, and the subscales of the REQ. Results suggested that attachment theory is a useful marker of emotion regulation and emotional evaluation tendencies.