Expectancy for negative mood regulation and mood recovery following the end of a romantic relationship

Date of Completion

January 1989


Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Personality




Several researchers have pointed out the need for investigation into how personality variables affect the coping process. Researchers have also called for more longitudinal studies of coping. The current research addresses these concerns. It comprises three studies conducted on the role of expectancies for negative mood regulation--as measured by the Negative Mood Regulation Scale (NMR; Catanzaro & Mearns, 1989)--in shaping the affective consequences of experiencing a distressing event--in this case the end of a romantic relationship. College undergraduate subjects who had recently experienced the end of a romantic relationship completed the NMR, and measures of depression and coping strategy. In addition, they filled out a questionnaire which assessed characteristics of the ended relationship. Study 1 ($N$ = 585) investigated whether high scorers on the NMR differed from low scorers in the intensity of depression they initially felt in the first week following the end of a romantic relationship. Study 2 ($N$ = 119) presented longitudinal data which focused on whether NMR high scorers experienced a more rapid rise in mood over time than did low scorers. And, Study 3 ($N$ = 78) presented prospective data on whether the NMR--taken six months previously--could uniquely predict initial and current depression following the subsequent end of a romantic relationship.^ The results of the three studies reported here (a) provide support for the discriminant and predictive validity of the Negative Mood Regulation Scale, and (b) illuminate the process by which negative mood regulation expectancies affect people's moods following a distressing event. Individuals with high expectancies for mood regulation become less depressed following an upsetting event. In addition, these individuals also experience a greater decrease in depression over time, although this relationship is not independent of the person's initial level of depression. In all, results of this study suggest the value of research on the role of negative mood regulation expectancies in the coping process and of the Negative Mood Regulation Scale as a measure of these expectancies. ^