Emotion mindsets and depressive symptoms in adolescence: The role of emotion regulation competence

Haley V Skymba, Wendy Troop-Gordon, Haina H Modi, Megan M Davis, Anne L Weldon, Yan Xia, Wendy Heller, Karen D Rudolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent theories posit that emotion mindsets (i.e., the extent to which individuals believe emotions are malleable or fixed) play a crucial role in experiences of emotion and influence emotion regulation (ER) processes. Drawing from mindset theory, this study examined the hypothesis that fixed emotion mindsets (FEMs) would predict depressive symptoms via compromised ER competence in adolescence, a period when many first episodes of depression occur. Results supported these hypotheses across two studies assessing participants in midadolescence (ages 14-18; M age = 16.17) and late adolescence (ages 18-21; M age = 18.52). Using a comprehensive approach to assessing ER, results demonstrated that FEMs were associated with less voluntary engagement and more disengagement and emotion dysregulation. In turn, higher voluntary engagement was associated with lower depressive symptoms, whereas higher disengagement and emotion dysregulation were associated with higher depressive symptoms. These findings highlight that one understudied pathway from FEMs to depressive symptoms may be the manner in which individuals respond to their emotions, implicating emotion mindsets as one target for efforts to improve clinical outcomes during adolescence. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmotion (Washington, D.C.)
StateE-pub ahead of print - Dec 28 2020


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