Recent conceptualizations of adaptive emotion regulation are predicated on the ability to flexibly use emotion regulation strategies to meet changing contextual demands. Although trait mindfulness has been linked to enhanced emotional well-being and the use of adaptive emotion regulation strategies, there is a dearth of literature examining associations between trait mindfulness and emotion regulation flexibility. Furthermore, despite a rich literature suggesting that emotion regulation processes change with age, no study to date has assessed whether the role of trait mindfulness on emotion regulation responsiveness to negative emotions—a component of emotion regulation flexibility—differs between young and older adults.
The current study recruited 130 young adults and 130 older adults to assess trait mindfulness, emotion regulation strategy use, and emotion regulation responsiveness of six distinct strategies in daily life.
Across the full sample, trait mindfulness was related to reduced distraction (
= − 0.11, t(238.09) = − 3.02, p = .003) and expressive suppression (
= − 0.15, t(237.70) = − 4.62, p < .001) strategy use. Age moderation analyses revealed that trait mindfulness was associated with reduced expressive suppression responsiveness (
= 0.12, t(247) = 2.31, p = .022) in young adults and increased detached reappraisal responsiveness among older adults (
= 0.15, t(247) = − 2.95, p = .003).
The current findings highlight the importance of understanding how trait mindfulness is associated with strategy use and responsiveness to negative affect changes in daily life as well as how these patterns may shift across the lifespan.
Open Science Framework, registration number: z5g8v.