Engaging in an experiential processing mode increases positive emotional response during recall of pleasant autobiographical memories
Behaviour Research and Therapy
Open Access funded by Medical Research Council. Under a Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
It is important to identify effective emotion regulation strategies to increase positive emotion experience in the general population and in clinical conditions characterized by anhedonia. There are indications that engaging in experiential processing (direct awareness of sensory and bodily experience) bolsters positive emotion experience but this has not been extensively tested during memory recall. To further test this notion, 99 community participants recalled two positive autobiographical memories. Prior to the second recall, participants either underwent an experiential, analytical, or distraction induction (n=33 per condition). Subjective happiness and sadness ratings and heart rate variability (HRV) response were measured during each recall. Greater spontaneous use of experiential processing during the first memory was associated with greater happiness experience, but was unrelated to HRV and sadness experience. Inducing experiential processing increased happiness experience relative to both the analytical and distraction conditions (but had no impact on sadness experience). There was a significant difference in HRV between conditions. The experiential condition led to a trend-significant increase, and the other conditions a non-significant decrease, in HRV from the first to the second memory. These results suggest that engaging in experiential processing is an effective way to up-regulate positive emotion experience during positive memory recall.
The UK Medical Research Council funded the data collection phase of this project (U1055.02.002.00001.01). Barney Dunn’s time to write up this study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Available online 21 February 2017