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Emotion Regulation and Religiosity: A Repeated Measures Approach
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Religious faith has been identified as a protective factor against negative psychological outcomes and is associated with a range of positive mental and physical health outcomes. While religion is thought to confer psychological benefits to believers in part by enhancing emotion regulation abilities and providing faith-based regulatory methods such as religious coping, these associations have not been examined empirically. This may be due to a lack of measures that are appropriate for use in repeated measures contexts, which are needed for accurate assessment of dynamic constructs such as emotions and regulation. This study employed generalizability theory in a sample (N = 146) collected in daily dairy format over 21 days to determine the reliability of commonly used measures of religiosity and religious coping at the daily level. Once reliability was established, varying time scales were used in a multilevel modeling framework to examine the associations among intrinsic religiosity, religious coping, positive and negative affect, and difficulties in emotion regulation. Positive religious coping (PRC) measured at baseline, same day, and a 1-day lag was associated with higher levels of daily positive affect, though PRC was also associated with negative affect when measured on the same day. Negative religious coping (NRC) measured at baseline predicted lower levels of daily positive affect and was associated with higher levels of negative affect when measured on the same day and a 1-day lag. NRC was also associated with higher levels of difficulties in emotion regulation at all measurement periods, though PRC and intrinsic religiosity were not significantly associated with emotion regulation difficulties. While not associated with daily positive or negative affect, intrinsic religiosity was found to enhance the effect of positive affect inertia. These results did not support the conceptualization that religiosity broadly promotes adaptive emotion regulation, but rather that intrinsic religiosity may increase positive affect by amplifying the effects of positive affect inertia. Additional work is needed with increased measurement occasions to fully understand the temporal associations among these constructs.