Written disclosure's effect on cognitive performance : the role of emotion regulation

    Item Description
    Linked Agent
    Creator (cre): Cook, Taylor Sachi
    Creator (cre): Luther, Gabriella Marie
    Creator (cre): Woletz, Benjamin Francis
    Advisor (adv): Blagov, Pavel
    May 11, 2016
    Graduation Year

    We focused on the immediate effects of written disclosure on cognitive performance. Using the consensual model of emotion regulation as a foundation, we proposed that emotion-regulation strategies would moderate the immediate effects of written disclosure on cognitive performance. Undergraduate participants (N = 59) recalled a traumatic personal memory and completed one of three reflection tasks. Participants were randomly assigned to either a balanced disclosure condition (a cognitive-affective reappraisal strategy, whereby participants narrated the event and associated feelings and meanings), a factual disclosure condition (an analog over-regulation or suppression strategy, whereby participants narrated only the facts of the event), or a control condition (whereby participants completed a questionnaire consisting of non-chronologically ordered factual questions about the event). Subsequently, participants completed measures of processing speed and executive control in working memory: the Stroop, Trail Making, and Paced Auditory Serial Addition tests. We hypothesized that working memory performance would be highest in the balanced disclosure condition, followed by the factual disclosure condition, followed by the control condition. Several one-way ANOVAs, repeated-measures ANOVAs, bivariate correlations, and an independent sample t test were conducted. Ultimately, we concluded that a single writing session was not sufficient to produce immediate cognitive benefits. However, we observed a significant decrease in positive affect and increase in negative affect following the writing tasks, which highlights the importance of continued research on the topic of disclosure.

    51 pages
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