The progress of emotion regulation methods and paradigms:From voluntary emotion regulation to automatic emotion regulation

Many psychological disorders are characterized by difficulties in emotion regulation. As a result, finding an effective way of emotional regulation has significant implications for people's understanding of emotional regulation mechanism and for the treatment of psychological disorders. Voluntary emotion regulation typically refers to effortful and controlled processes based on consciously intended strategies. Many previous studies have shown that voluntary emotion regulation is effective in reducing individuals' negative emotional responses. However, its regulatory effects always come with the cognitive costs that limit its clinical application. Recently, researchers have begun to pay attention to automatic emotion regulation that can reduce the negative emotional responses without cognitive resource consumption. Automatic emotion regulation(AER) is characterized by goal-driven changes to human emotions without a conscious decision to do so and without engaging in deliberate control. This characteristic has been suggested to be critical for the psychological well-being of human beings. Though the regulatory effects of AER have been suggested to be effective and cost-free, its research methods and paradigms have not yet to be systematically elaborated to date. After systematic review of existing studies of AER, we consider that automatic goal pursuit constitutes the common theoretical foundation of AER. Early studies mainly used individual differences method to explore the relationship between spontaneous emotion-regulatory effects and physiological measurement scores. These studies found that emotion regulation can spontaneous occur without explicit instructions and individuals' abilities of spontaneous emotion regulation are closely associated with their scores on emotion-regulation-related scales. With the development of AER research, several experimental paradigms for AER are proposed and used constantly. Here, we summarized three types of AER tasks based on these existing literature: sentence uns