Reappraising fear: is up-regulation more efficient than down-regulation?

Julian Wiemer, Milena M. Rauner, Yannik Stegmann, Paul Pauli
2021 Motivation and Emotion  
AbstractCatastrophizing thoughts may contribute to the development of anxiety, but functional emotion regulation may help to improve treatment. No study so far directly compared up- and down-regulation of fear by cognitive reappraisal. Here, healthy individuals took part in a cued fear experiment, in which multiple pictures of faces were paired twice with an unpleasant scream or presented as safety stimuli. Participants (N = 47) were asked (within-subjects) to down-regulate, to up-regulate and
more » ... o maintain their natural emotional response. Valence and arousal ratings indicated successful up- and down-regulation of the emotional experience, while heart rate and pupil dilation increased during up-regulation, but showed no reduction in down-regulation. State and trait anxiety correlated with evaluations of safety but not threat stimuli, which supports the role of deficient safety learning in anxiety. Reappraisal did not modulate this effect. In conclusion, this study reveals evidence for up-regulation effects in fear, which might be even more efficient than down-regulation on a physiological level and highlights the importance of catastrophizing thoughts for the maintenance of fear and anxiety.
doi:10.1007/s11031-021-09871-9 fatcat:efxn3u55bjauhipq3ijnskakla