Despite increasing interest in positive psychological states, we know little about how regulatory responses to positive (savoring) compared to negative events (e.g. acceptance, cognitive reappraisal) influence emotional functioning. Savoring may be particularly helpful for athletes who are often trained to attend more to negative (e.g. rectifying weaknesses) compared to positive stimuli (e.g. enjoying progress).
Sixty-seven college athletes completed a two-week daily diary study. Using multi-level modeling, we first explored whether various regulatory responses to daily negative events predicted unique variance in daily emotions (i.e. happy, content, grateful, sad, angry, annoyed). Next, we tested whether savoring positive events strengthened the association between event intensity and positive daily emotions. Finally, we tested whether regulatory responses to positive compared to negative events had stronger moderating (buffering) effects on the association between daily negative event intensity and daily emotions.
Based on 836 daily observations, reappraising and accepting negative events were the only strategies that predicted unique variance in daily emotions. Savoring enhanced positive emotions related to positive events. Reappraising negative events buffered associations between negative event intensity and decreased daily gratitude, while savoring positive events buffered associations between negative event intensity and increased anger, annoyance, and average negative emotions. Accepting negative events had similar effects.
Savoring positive events may be an underappreciated strategy for helping athletes regulate emotions related to negative events. Since our sample predominantly identified as white and female, further research is needed to understand savoring use and effectiveness among the full, diverse spectrum of college athletes.