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The ability to regulate emotions is central to well-being, but healthy emotion regulation may not merely be about using the “right” strategies. According to the strategy-situation-fit hypothesis, emotion-regulation strategies are conducive to well-being only when used in appropriate contexts. This study is the first to test the strategy-situation-fit hypothesis using ecological momentary assessment of cognitive reappraisal—a putatively adaptive strategy. We expected people who used reappraisal more in uncontrollable situations and less in controllable situations to have greater well-being than people with the opposite pattern of reappraisal use. Healthy participants (n = 74) completed measures of well-being in the lab and used a smartphone app to report their use of reappraisal and perceived controllability of their environment 10 times a day for 1 week. Results supported the strategy-situation-fit hypothesis. Participants with relatively high well-being used reappraisal more in situations they perceived as lower in controllability and less in situations they perceived as higher in controllability. In contrast, we found little evidence for an association between greater well-being and greater mean use of reappraisal across situations.

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Journal Article

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