Document Type



Master of Arts



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Sandra Langeslag


Sandra Langeslag

Suzanne Welcome

George Taylor


Romantic break-ups can cause sadness, depression, and physical symptoms. The purpose of this study is to compare two methods of alleviating heartbreak: negative reappraisal of the ex-partner and positive reappraisal of the break-up. We expected that positive reappraisal would make people feel more positive than negative reappraisal, but that negative reappraisal would make people feel less in love than positive reappraisal. We expected that negative reappraisal would reduce motivated attention as measured by the late positive potential (LPP) and how upset people were about the break-up more than positive reappraisal. In this study, 24 participants (16 female) who were upset about a break-up viewed pictures of their ex-partner in three conditions: negative reappraisal, positive reappraisal, and no regulation. In the negative reappraisal condition, participants were prompted to think about negative aspects of their ex-partner. In the positive reappraisal condition, participants were prompted to think about positive aspects of being single. After each prompt, participants viewed the ex-partner picture and the LPP was measured. Participants rated infatuation, attachment, valence, and upsetness about the break-up. Even though many variables showed numerical differences that were in line with previous research and our hypotheses, no significant differences occurred between conditions for infatuation, attachment, valence, upsetness, or LPP amplitude about break-up in the preregistered analyses. Exploratory analyses showed that the LPP amplitude at Pz in the negative reappraisal condition was less positive than during the no regulation condition. Future research can help see if there are effects of positive and negative reappraisal over time.

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