The Relationship Between Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Clinical Symptoms
Backus, Faedra. “The Relationship Between Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Clinical Symptoms”. PhD, Boston College, 2013. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/3088.
Epidemiological studies consistently identify markedly higher rates of depression and anxiety in women than in men. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema's (1991) response styles theory posits that women's higher use of rumination contributes to these differences in rates of depression. The purpose of this dissertation was to extend this theory with the inclusion of conformity to gender role norms as a meaningful predictor of women's and men's tendencies to use of a variety of cognitive emotion regulation strategies, including rumination. The current study also sought to examine relationships among cognitive emotion regulation strategies and both depression and anxiety. Adult women and men (N = 754) completed an online survey including measures of conformity to masculine and feminine gender role norms, 10 cognitive emotion regulation strategies (rumination, distraction, self-blame, acceptance, positive refocusing, refocus on planning, positive reappraisal, putting into perspective, catastrophizing, and other-blame), depression, and anxiety. Results of regression analyses indicated that use of particular cognitive emotion regulation strategies predicted levels of depression and anxiety. Specifically, self-blame, rumination, and distraction were associated with higher levels of both depression and anxiety. Other-blame was also associated with higher levels of anxiety. In contrast, acceptance and refocusing on planning were associated with lower anxiety scores. Women were more likely, by a small margin, to endorse use of both rumination and distraction, however, significant sex differences in reported levels of depression and anxiety were not found. Further, conformity to gender role norms did not explain the sex differences that were found in the use of rumination and distraction. Finally, analysis of a structural equation model, designed to examine an extended version of response styles theory, supported the regression findings and provided additional information about the relationships among conformity to gender role norms, cognitive emotion regulation strategies, and symptoms of depression. Implications for clinical practice and suggestions for future research are discussed, including the importance of exploring alternative meaningful components of within-group variability for women and men.