Research

At the Amsterdam Emotion Regulation Lab, we investigate the processes that allow people to control their own emotional states. Our main emphasis is on theory-driven, experimental research. However, we are also interested in theory-guided applications that can improve emotion regulation in everyday life. There are currently three main lines of research at our Lab:

I. Embodied Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is traditionally understood as a process in which the rational mind gains control over the irrational passions that originate in the body. Our research seeks to overcome this dualism by studying if people may also use the body to facilitate emotion regulation. We have extended the general notion of embodied emotion regulation to a number of specific topics: Lotte Veenstra’s PhD research is mainly concerned with anger management (See Drawn to Danger).  Mandy Tjew A Sin has explored the effects of touch in her PhD project (Representative Publication). Caroline Schlinkert’s PhD project addresses body awareness and alienation from the body and their links with rumination people with (Representative Publication).

II. Emotion-Regulatory Benefits of Contact With Nature

Contact with nature, for instance by viewing natural scenes or hiking, has been found to alleviate stress and promote psychological wellbeing. Our research seeks to gain more insight into these emotion-regulatory benefits of nature. Moreover, we are developing and evaluating nature-based interventions in such settings as schools, hospitals, and work. An example of such interventions can be found at http://www.groenegezondeziekenhuizen.nl/. This line of research is led by Jolanda Maas and Karin Tanja-Dijkstra.

III. Emotion Regulation in Psychotherapy

It is well-established that psychotherapy can be effective in treating affective disorders such as depression and social anxiety. But what is it that makes psychotherapy work? And which emotion-regulatory processes are involved in psychotherapy? In our research, we approach these questions by taking an interpersonal approach to psychotherapy. In one project, we are examining synchronization processes that occur between patient and therapist, and how these relate to therapeutic outcomes (Representative Publication). Another important psychotherapy process relates to the language that is used to describe one’s emotions. People with alexthymia often find it difficult to put their feelings into words, and, perhaps as a result, tend to benefit less from psychotherapy. Dalya Samur investigates individual differences in alexithymia and how they relate to linguistic processing of emotion (Representative Publication).