Fluency Generating Emotion Words Correlates With Verbal Measures But Not Emotion Regulation, Alexithymia, or Depressive Symptoms

Haley M. Hegefeld, Ajay B. Satpute, Kevin N. Ochsner, Juliet Y. Davidow, Erik C. Nook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

How do you feel? To answer this question, one must first think of potential emotion words before choosing the best fit. However, we have little insight into how the ability to rapidly bring to mind emotion words—emotion fluency—relates to emotion functioning or general verbal abilities. In this study, we measured emotion fluency by counting how many emotion words participants could generate in 60 s. Participants (N= 151 in 2011–2012) also completed a behavioral measure of verbal fluency (i.e., how many words starting with “P” or “J” participants could produce in 60 s), a cognitive reappraisal emotion regulation task, and emotion functioning questionnaires. In preregistered analyses, we found that participants produced more negative emotion words than positive words and more positive words than neutral words in the emotion fluency task. As hypothesized, emotion fluency was positively related to verbal fluency, but contrary to hypotheses, emotion fluency was not related to self-reported or task-based emotion functioning (e.g., alexithymia, depression, and emotion regulation ability). As such, in community samples, emotion fluency may reflect general cognitive abilities rather than processes crucial to emotional well-being. While emotion fluency as measured here does not track indices of well-being, future research is needed to investigate potential contexts in which verbal fluency for emotion words may be key to emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2259-2269
Number of pages11
JournalEmotion
Volume23
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 6 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

Keywords

  • alexithymia
  • depression
  • emotion fluency
  • emotion regulation
  • verbal fluency

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