The Implications of Future Time Perspective and Planning Ability for Children's Emotion Regulation

Title: The Implications of Future Time Perspective and Planning Ability for Children's Emotion Regulation
Authors: Puddester, Leah M
Date: 2011
Abstract: Studying emotion regulation in childhood has particular importance for understanding the developmental trajectory of these abilities, as well as for informing preventative work that could offset later psychopathology. Gross (1998a) has distinguished between antecedent- and response focused emotion regulation strategies, and has shown that emotion regulation strategies that occur earlier in the emotion generative process have more favourable outcomes. The first step in antecedent emotion regulation is situation selection, which involves seeking out or avoiding certain situations or environments in order to regulate emotion. In fact, there is a growing psychological literature on children's environmental choices, or environmental niche picking, and how they may affect self-regulatory processes such as emotion regulation. To date, most research has focused on environmental choices for preferred (favourite) environments, and little attention has been focused on non-preferred environments, namely the school playground - the predominant social environment in which children spend their formative years. One's ability to plan, think about the future, and delay immediate gratification are also thought to be important factors in antecedent focused emotion regulation, as such skills allow an individual to move beyond immediate concerns. Few studies have investigated the relationship between emotion regulation and children's future time perspective and planning ability. The present study sought to add to existing research on emotion regulation by investigating the mechanisms by which children develop healthy emotion regulation skills. It was hypothesized that children who scored higher on future time perspective and planning ability would demonstrate better emotion regulation and be rated by peers as less aggressive. It was also hypothesized that any relationship between emotion regulation and aggression would be mediated by future time perspective and/or planning ability. Participants were 82 elementary school students in grades 3 (13 females, 15 males), 4 (17 females, 13 males), and 5 (17 females, 7 males). Parents and homeroom teachers of children also participated by completing the Lability/Negativity scale of the Emotion Regulation Checklist (Shields and Cicchetti, 1997). Children completed peer nomination measures of social behaviour using the Revised Class Play (Masten, Morrison, and Pellegrini, 1985) and one measure of emotion regulation, the Environmental Choices task (Ledingham, Rafter, & Genot, 1995). Children also completed two measures of means-end thinking: the Children's Time Perspective Inventory (Myers, 2000), and the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Cognitive Abilities - Planning subtest. Results indicated that children as young as the age of 7 could be classified as having a future time perspective, and that future time perspective significantly predicted peer nominations of children's aggression. In addition, children's planning ability, as measured by the Woodcock-Johnson, played a significant role not only in predicting children's self-reported emotion regulation reasons for environmental choices, but also in accounting for parent ratings of children's emotion regulation. This study also highlighted the importance of environmental niche picking for emotion regulation, with a majority of children indicating that they actively used different locations on the playground to help them regulate their negative emotional states. Contrary to hypotheses, there was no evidence that future time perspective or planning ability mediated the relationship between emotion regulation and aggression. Limitations and implications of the current findings are discussed.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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