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Flexibility in self-regulatory behaviors has proved to be an important quality for adjusting to stressful life events and requires individuals to have a diverse repertoire of emotion regulation abilities. However, the most commonly used emotion regulation questionnaires assess frequency of behavior rather than ability, with little evidence linking these measures to observable capacity to enact a behavior. The aim of the current investigation was to develop and validate a Flexible Regulation of Emotional Expression (FREE) Scale that measures a person's ability to enhance and suppress displayed emotion across an array of hypothetical contexts. In Studies 1 and 2, a series of confirmatory factor analyses revealed that the FREE Scale consists of 4 first-order factors divided by regulation and emotional valence type that can contribute to 2 higher order factors: expressive enhancement ability and suppression ability. In Study 1, we also compared the FREE Scale to other commonly used emotion regulation measures, which revealed that suppression ability is conceptually distinct from suppression frequency. In Study 3, we compared the FREE Scale with a composite of traditional frequency-based indices of expressive regulation to predict performance in a previously validated emotional modulation paradigm. Participants' enhancement and suppression ability scores on the FREE Scale predicted their corresponding performance on the laboratory task, even when controlling for baseline expressiveness. These studies suggest that the FREE Scale is a valid and flexible measure of expressive regulation ability. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Name: Psychological assessment
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