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. Interpersonal Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is traditionally understood as an intrapersonal process. However, it is clear that emotion regulation is intrinsically tied to interpersonal processes. In early childhood, caregivers exert a major influence on children’s emotions. From these interpersonal interactions, people’s ability emerges to self-regulate their emotional states. Yet even in adulthood, people frequently turn to others for emotional support or to simply share their emotions. These interpersonal aspects of emotion regulation constitute a major focus of the Amsterdam Emotion Regulation Lab. The PhD projects of Nigel Janssens, Chris Ryan, and Sophie Hendrikse are devoted to this topic. Key collaborators here are Dana Atzil-Slonim, Emily Butler, and Wolfgang Tschacher.

II. Emotion-Regulatory Benefits of 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 conducted in collaboration with Jolanda Maas and Karin Tanja-Dijkstra.

III. Implicit Emotion Regulation

There is growing evidence that a great deal of emotion regulation operates on automatic or implicit levels. At the Amsterdam Emotion Regulation Lab, we have been studying implicit processes in emotion regulation for a number of years. Currently, we are examining the role of implicit processes in trauma coping, as part of the PhD project of McKenzie Lockett, which is a joint PhD with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.