One of the central goals of this research alliance is to define a functional approach to the underlying mechanisms within emotion processing and regulation in social interactions and daily life events and its effect on sleep, well-being, and the development and maintenance of psychopathology. A multidisciplinary perspective is thereby indicated, taking into account the expertise of the different partners. We aim to answer the following questions: Why are some individuals particularly vulnerable to negative life events, while others appear to be relatively protected? Why are some individuals better in regulating their emotions than others? How does this affect well-being and even sleep? How can we strengthen and develop resilience? When is a specific way of emotion processing and regulation maladaptive or adaptive in the processing of emotional events?
The research questions are based upon recent literature whereby it is shown that developmental influences such as life stress (e.g., negative life events) may impact some individuals - but not all - in how they react to negative life events. Also, interpersonal dynamics in the social environment build and regulate emotion and behavior affecting neurophysiological and psychological health (Vandekerckhove, 2005). Moreover, adaptive emotion regulation strategies in early life may act as a protective developmental factor, while maladaptive emotion regulation has been associated with vulnerability for later psychopathology (cf. Braet et al., 2013, Eisenberg et al., 2000).
The focus of the current research alliance lies thus on both the risk and resilience factors in processing negative events, i.e., the processes which make some individuals particularly sensitive to negative life events, while others appear to be relatively resilient, as well as the implementation and testing of emotion regulation programs. Based on current insights and further research findings the implementation of special emotion regulation programs in children and in adolescents will be tested in order to decrease vulnerability and ameliorate resilience.