Emotional regulation is at the core of emotional well-being. Individuals who possess adaptive emotional regulation skills are able to control their emotional reactions and express themselves in constructive ways when confronted with stress and challenging situations. This flexibility allows these individuals to experience positive outcomes in negative conditions. In contrast, individuals who are unable to regulate their emotions may struggle with trying situations and life stresses. They may internalize their emotions, which can lead to anxiety or depression. Or they may externalize their emotions through anger and hostility. Understanding what factors influence emotional regulation can help clinicians design interventions to overcome these obstacles.
One of the tools being used for this assessment is the Multidimensional Negative Emotions Self-Regulatory Efficacy Scale (MNESRES). This scale has five categories that are used to evaluate the self-efficacy of an individual with respect to shame/embarrassment (SE_SE), fear (SE_F), anger/irritation (SE_AI), guilt (SE_G), and despondency/sadness (SE_DS). To determine if this tool is an effective instrument for measuring self-efficacy, Gian Vittorio Caprara of the Psychology Department at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy recently led a study that involved 403 young adults from Italy and 380 college students from the United States.
Caprara conducted the study with the foundation of self-efficacy as a predictor of change. “Unless people believe they can produce desired results with their actions, they have little incentive to undertake activities or to persevere in the face of difficulties,” said Caprara. After evaluating the participants using the MNESRES, Caprara found that depression corresponded with SE_DS, shyness with SE_SE, and fear and phobias with SE_F. Additionally, the participants high in SE_AI exhibited the highest levels of irritability. These results were consistent in both countries. After further analyses, Caprara was able to develop three distinct classes of self-efficacy emotional regulation behaviors. They were, first order factors of all five categories with SE_AI and SE_DS as one secondary factor and SE_SE and SE_G as another. Finally, SE_F could be categorized in its own class as a unique factor. Overall, the study revealed that the MNESRES is a valid tool for measuring self-efficacy, and clinicians should consider all the variable factors when working with clients who have emotional regulation problems.
Caprara, G. V., Di Giunta, L., Pastorelli, C., Eisenberg, N. (2012). Mastery of negative affect: A hierarchical model of emotional self-efficacy beliefs. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029136
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