The authors present in this study a damped oscillator model that provides a direct mathematical basis for testing the notion of emotion as a self-regulatory thermostat. Parameters from this model reflect individual differences in emotional lability and the ability to regulate emotion. The authors discuss concepts such as intensity, rate of change, and acceleration in the context of emotion, and they illustrate the strengths of this approach in comparison with spectral analysis and growth curve models. The utility of this modeling approach is illustrated using daily emotion ratings from 179 college students over 52 consecutive days. Overall, the damped oscillator model provides a meaningful way of representing emotion regulation as a dynamic process and helps identify the dominant periodicities in individuals' emotions.
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