Macquarie University
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Positive reappraisal in older adults: exploration of a cognitive emotion regulation strategy

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:31 authored by Jamie S. Nowlan
Positive reappraisal is an adaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategy that is relevant for older adults and may facilitate coping with ageing-related stressors. This thesis examined the construct of positive reappraisal in older adulthood, specifically investigating how emotion and time since stressor occurrence relate to use of the strategy and whether positive reappraisal can be used therapeutically to facilitate coping with chronic physical illness. Given the lack of systematic reviews on positive reappraisal or its measurement, the first two papers in the thesis comprised two systematic literature reviews, firstly evaluating the construct of positive reappraisal in older adulthood and secondly examining self-report questionnaires that measure positive reappraisal validly and reliably. The third paper in the thesis explored the mechanisms underpinning the positive reappraisal strategy across two separate studies (retrospective and prospective) with a particular emphasis on its relationship with emotion over time. The fourth paper in the thesis comprised a pilot study of a structured intervention to examine whether the positive reappraisal strategy could be taught to older adults to increase their use of positive reappraisal. The final paper in the thesis used a randomised controlled trial design to examine whether a single-session positive reappraisal intervention for chronically-ill older adults would increase positive reappraisal use more than cognitive restructuring or supportive counselling. Results from this thesis indicate that positive reappraisal is an adaptive coping strategy for older adults, particularly relating to increased positive emotion, is associated with increased use and benefit over time since stressor occurrence, and can be increased in older adults with a structured single-session intervention. The thesis furthers our understanding of late-life positive reappraisal, demonstrates that it is an adaptive coping strategy for older adults, and provides evidence for a novel therapeutic technique to increase the use of positive reappraisal with older adult populations.


Table of Contents

General introduction -- Paper 1. Positive reappraisal in older adults : a systematic literature review -- Paper 2. Self-report measures of positive reappraisal with a focus on older adults : a systematic review -- Paper 3. The impact of positive reappraisal on positive (and negative) emotion among older adults -- Paper 4. Increasing older adults’ use of positive reappraisal coping for chronic physical illness -- Paper 5. A comparison of single-session positive reappraisal, cognitive restructuring and supportive counselling for older adults with type 2 diabetes -- General discussion.


"Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia February 2016" -- title page. Thesis by publication. Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MClinPsych/PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Viviana Wuthrich

Additional Supervisor 1

Ronald M. Rapee


Copyright Jamie S. Nowlan 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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