Acceptance versus reappraisal: Behavioral, autonomic, and neural effects

Philip R Goldin, Craig A. Moodie, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Emotion regulation (ER) is an important skill for well-being. Cognitive reappraisal is a goal-oriented cognitive change strategy. Acceptance involves decentering from immediate habits of reactivity, observing moment-to-moment shifts in thoughts, emotions, and sensations. These two regulation strategies are thought to have different effects on emotion; however, no study has examined the differential effects of reappraisal and acceptance on behavioral, autonomic, and brain responses in the context of ideographic personally salient negative self-beliefs. Thirty-five right-handed, healthy adults were presented idiographic negative self-beliefs embedded in autobiographical scripts. We measured negative emotion ratings, autonomic psychophysiology, and functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen-level dependent responses while participants read neutral statements, reacted to their own negative self-beliefs, and implemented reappraisal and acceptance strategies. Compared with react, reappraisal resulted in significantly lesser negative emotion and respiration rate; no differences in heart rate and skin conductance level; greater brain responses implicated in cognitive control, language, and social cognition; and lesser amygdala responses. Compared with react, acceptance resulted in significantly lesser negative emotion, respiration rate, and heart rate; no difference in skin conductance level; and greater brain responses in networks implicated in cognitive control and attention. Compared with acceptance, reappraisal resulted in significantly lesser negative emotion; no difference in respiration rate and skin conductance level; higher heart rate; greater brain responses in brain regions implicated in cognitive control; and lesser brain responses in amygdala. Reappraisal is more effective than acceptance in down-regulating negative emotion, but may require greater recruitment of autonomic, cognitive, and brain resources. identifier: NCT02036658.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Acceptance
  • Emotion regulation
  • fMRI
  • Mindful attention
  • Neuroimaging
  • Reappraisal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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