Cognitive depletion in emotion regulation: age differences depend on regulation strategy
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Recent work has suggested that emotion regulation of inner emotional experience requires fewer cognitive resources for older adults than for young adults (Scheibe&Blanchard-Fields, 2009). The present study investigated whether cognitive costs are reduced for various types of emotion regulation strategies or only for certain types. The suppression of emotional expression, for example, is a particularly costly strategy for young adults, but little information exists regarding its cognitive costs for older adults. Furthermore, suppression of emotional expression is not a strategy that older adults are likely to use or that they become more effective at using. By contrast, the regulation of inner emotional experience has been shown to be more effective in older adults and presents less of a cognitive cost. The present study examined the cognitive costs of regulation of inner emotional experience (to conceptually replicate previous findings) and the cognitive costs of suppression of the outer expression of emotion. The results suggest that regulating and suppressing emotions do not require the same degree of resources for older and young adults. Whereas older adults may require more resources to suppress expression of emotions than to regulate emotions, young adults appear to require more resources to regulate emotions than to suppress the expression of emotions.