Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Divorce Adjustment: A Mixed Methods Study

Prof Doc Thesis

Walls, Melanie 2009. Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Divorce Adjustment: A Mixed Methods Study. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWalls, Melanie
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This three-phase sequential explanatory mixed methods study investigated the role of
cognitive emotion regulation in the divorce adjustment process. Sixty-four
participants who had filed for divorce during the previous five years completed
questionnaires measuring their use of nine cognitive emotion regulation strategies,
their level of divorce adjustment and their emotional well-being. Following this four
well adjusted and four poorly adjusted participants were interviewed about their
experiences of emotion regulation in relation to their divorce. This enabled a
comparison with the quantitative findings and helped to develop a greater
understanding of the process of cognitive emotion regulation. The transcripts were
analysed using thematic analysis and the combined results indicated that positive
reappraisal, putting in perspective, constructive thought focus and objective
attribution of responsibility were beneficial to divorce adjustment. By contrast,
catastrophising, destructive thought focus and blame were found to be detrimental to
the process. In addition the study found that female divorcees appeared to benefit
from refocusing on planning, but male divorcees reported that planning was difficult
until later in the adjustment process. An additional interpretative phenomenological
analysis was then carried out on one transcript to better understand the role of blame
hi divorce adjustment. The analysis indicated the participant's experience of selfblame
as debilitating, and his subsequent move to other-blame, as being empowering
and more comfortable. However the analysis highlighted underlying unresolved
thoughts and feelings that seemed to be preventing the participant from moving
forwards. This highlighted the clinical implications of encouraging divorcees to
reevaluate their polarised thoughts to regain some perception of control over their
future. This study indicated that the role of cognitive coping strategies varies with
time and across gender, suggesting that future research could employ a mixedmethods
longitudinal design, with a larger sample, to help to develop a greater
understanding of the roles of the strategies, and the differences across gender, through
the adjustment process. This design would also help to develop a greater
understanding of the process of movement from detrimental to beneficial strategies
and the role of gendered narratives about marriage on the adjustment process.

Publication dates
PrintMay 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Jun 2014
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