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It has been found that tasks that require self-control deplete our willpower gradually over time, and have been linked with glucose levels. This “ego depletion” effect has rarely been tested in emotional regulation. The depletion effect (by means of the mentally challenging Stroop task) was compared with two emotional self-regulation strategies by pairing them in four conditions. Half of all participants underwent the Stroop task, and all received instructions for viewing a video clip asking them to either suppress or reappraise their reaction to the film. Participants were then shown a brief video clip invoking disgust, as measured by an emotional rating scale. It was found that of the four proposed conditions (non-depletion/reappraisal, depletion/reappraisal, non-depletion/suppression, depletion/suppression), there were no significant differences in self-report of arousal or disgust but a main effect approaching significance in self-report of tension. It was also hypothesized that those in both suppression conditions will experience greater change in tension and arousal than reappraisal conditions.

Essentially, it is thought that our glucose levels will be more effective in determining emotional intensity and physiological activation than our conscious strategies.

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