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The effects of rumination and emotional writing on heart rate recovery following anger recall

by Hernandez, Danielle H.

Abstract (Summary)
The Effects of Rumination and Emotional Writing on Heart Rate Recovery Following Anger Recall Danielle H. Hernandez Recognizing that stress is related to a variety of psychological and physical health consequences, several studies have examined strategies individuals use to cope with life stressors. Two such strategies are rumination and emotional writing. Although on the surface, these two strategies appear to evoke similar goals (e.g., exposure to negative life events), research has shown that rumination is closely associated with delays in cardiovascular recovery and emotional writing is possibly linked to enhanced cardiovascular recovery from stress. This experiment examined the effects of rumination and emotional writing on heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) recovery from the recall of an anger-provoking incident. Forty-nine female undergraduate students were asked to recall both an anger-provoking and a pleasant event, and to verbalize their feelings surrounding the anger-provoking event during an anger recall period. Participants were then assigned to one of four groups: an emotional writing group that wrote about either the anger-provoking or pleasant event, a rumination group that thought about the anger-provoking event, or a positive recollection group that thought about the pleasant event. Results revealed that participants who thought or wrote about the angerprovoking event reported higher levels of state anger during a recovery period than those participants who focused on the pleasant event (p < .001). Similarly, participants in groups that thought or wrote about the anger-provoking incident reported higher anger levels during and after their assigned task than those who focused on the pleasant event (p < .001). Participants who wrote about events had higher HR during the recovery phase than participants who were asked to think about their event (p < .01). Similarly, participants who wrote about their events had higher DBPs during the recovery phase than those in thinking groups (p < .05). It appears that focusing on pleasant life events may be a valuable short-term coping resource when faced with an anger-provoking event, whereas writing about a negative event may be more beneficial in the long run. Further research may focus on comparing these same groups over extended periods of time. iii
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Advisor:

School:West Virginia University

School Location:USA - West Virginia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:anger adjustment psychology

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