Despite a wealth of knowledge on the importance of resource availability and reward processing for emotional regulation, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which these two mechanisms interact. Indeed, while research largely supports a positive association between reward processing and recovering from a negative emotional experience, the research does not make a clear prediction regarding the effect of resource availability on this relationship. In two experiments, we explored the extent to which resource availability impacts the efficacy of reward processing to reduce the aversive emotional experience of anxiety. We manipulated participants' mental resource availability, induced anxiety, and varied exposure to either a rewarding or non-rewarding stimulus. The findings consistently demonstrate an interaction between resource availability and reward processing; specifically, the combination of high resource availability and reward processing facilitated the greatest levels of anxiety reduction. Moreover, this interaction was shown to amplify with the intensity of participants' exposure to the reward stimulus. We discuss the practical contributions of these findings and their generative nature for further clarifying the processes underlying emotional regulation.
© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ Published version in: Roberts, M. E., Clarkson, J. J., Cummings, E. L., & Ragsdale, C. M. (2016). Facilitating emotional regulation: The interactive effect of resource availability and reward processing. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2016.09.002
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