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Acceptance, Appraisal or Suppression: Anxiety Solutions

Posted Jan 20 2010 11:27am
A recent study looked at which kind of emotional response worked best at controlling anxiety. Participants in the study, over 200 subjects, were asked to give an impromptu speech in front of a video camera. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Reappraisal, Acceptance or Suppression.

The Reappraisal Group was instructed to regulate anxiety by reappraising the negative aspects of the experience to more positive ones as they performed the task.

The Suppression Group was asked to suppress their anxiety as they performed the task.

The Acceptance Group was instructed to just accept their anxiety and perform the task.

The results of the study revealed that the Suppression Group showed greater levels of anxiety than the Reappraisal and Acceptance Groups. Interestingly, both the Acceptance and Suppression groups did not differ in their subjective anxiety response. These results suggest that reappraising and/or accepting anxiety is more effective than suppressing anxiety.

This makes sense. Bottling up emotions doesn't do your mind, body or soul any good. Looking at your emotional experiences, accepting them, or trying to make better sense of them are healthier options.

Bottom line: Don't put a cork in it.

ResearchBlogging.orgHofmann, S., Heering, S., Sawyer, A., & Asnaani, A. (2009). How to handle anxiety: The effects of reappraisal, acceptance, and suppression strategies on anxious arousal Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47 (5), 389-394 DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.02.010

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