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This paper presents a provisional classification of deliberate strategies for improving unpleasant affect based on conceptual judgements concerning their similarities and differences. A corpus of self-reported upward affect-regulation strategies was collected using questionnaires, interviews, and group discussions, in conjunction with an examination of existing literature on related topics. A total of 162 distinct strategies were identified and a preliminary categorisation was developed by the investigators. We then conducted a card-sort task in which 24 participants produced separate classifications of the strategies. The similarity matrix arising from co-occurrence data was subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis and the obtained typology provided independent support for our proposed distinctions between strategies implemented cognitively and behaviourally, between diversion and engagement strategies, and between active distraction and direct avoidance, and for specific lower-level groupings of strategies relating to venting, reappraisal, and seeking social support. Potential refinements and applications of the resulting classification system are considered. © 1999 Psychology Press Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Cognition and Emotion

Publication Date





277 - 303