Previous research indicates that training individuals to recruit cognitive control before exposure to negative pictures can facilitate the propensity to use reappraisal and reappraisal success. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience difficulties in cognitive control and emotion regulation, so they may especially benefit from such training. Individuals reporting high ADHD symptoms and controls were randomly assigned to one of two training conditions. In the high emotion control (H-EC) training condition, negative pictures were typically preceded by a stimulus that recruits cognitive control. In contrast, in the low emotion control (L-EC) training condition, negative pictures were typically preceded by a stimulus that does not recruit cognitive control. Participants were then asked to recall an adverse personal event and to reappraise the event. As predicted, instructed reappraisal was more effective in reducing negative mood in the H-EC training compared to the L-EC training. Furthermore, compared to controls, individuals with reported ADHD symptoms showed a greater propensity to use reappraisal after writing the event and a more considerable reduction in event significance and negativity following the instructed reappraisal assignment. We argue that employing cognitive control over emotional information has a causal role in reappraisal use and success among individuals with ADHD symptoms.
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