According to a heuristic framework developed by Bonanno and Burton (2013), emotion regulation flexibility has been conceptualized as a multicomponent construct that consists of three sequential components, respectively the ability to accurately decode the demands and challenges presented by the situation (context sensitivity), the ability to use different types of regulatory behaviors/strategies (repertoire), and the ability to monitor and modify regulatory strategy efficacy after it is instantiated (feedback responsiveness).
Current projects seek to better capture individual components with self-report and experimental assessments, as well as integrate these components to gain a holistic picture of their joint contribution to psychological adjustment. In one recent study (Chen & Bonanno, 2021), we used double cross-validated latent profile analysis to identify the nature of flexibility deficits across individuals and examine how different patterns of flexibility components are associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. We designed experimental paradigms to assess repertoire (Bonanno et al., 2004) and feedback responsiveness (Birk & Bonanno, 2016), and we are currently developing a behavioral measure of context sensitivity as well as studying how cognitive processes such as rumination and executive control may lead to temporary variations in context sensitivity.
This study will explore regulation mechanisms in children and the patterns between family members as predictors of overall adjustment following stressful life events. Previous work in our lab has highlighted the varying efficacy of certain regulatory mechanisms across situations and individuals (please see publications section for relevant articles). However, little is known about these regulatory mechanisms in children/adolescents in general, and even less is known for children/adolescents who may face the unique challenges and transitions of being in a veteran family. To our knowledge, no study has investigated these mechanisms for the larger family unit.
We will pay special attention to the strategies that are used in various emotionally evocative situations. We aim to better understand these various strategies families may use that can either foster better overall adjustment or that can potentially lead to the difficulties mentioned above. Furthermore, given that just under half of current servicemen/women are parents, we will pay specific attention to military families as they transition out of the military to better understand the unique experiences and needs of our veteran families
Most importantly, we hope to translate this information into tangible support – in the creation of resources or workshops for all families across the nation.
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This experimental study aims to better understand the role of executive functioning in regulatory flexibility, or one's ability to modulate their emotion regulation strategies based on the context of a given situation. Using a modified version of the Expressive Flexibility Task (Bonanno et al., 2004), we are investigating the role of cognitive control (i.e. working memory, inhibition, switching) in expressive flexibility. Moreover, this study aims to further elucidate the relationship between regulatory flexibility and Veteran transition experiences (see Mobbs & Bonanno, 2017) and to investigate potential differences in expressive flexibility between civilians and Veterans. This study is being conducted entirely online and includes an experiment, a neurocognitive test, self-report measures, and an interview.