Working memory capacity and spontaneous emotion regulation: high capacity predicts self-enhancement in response to negative feedback. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although previous evidence suggests that working memory capacity (WMC) is important for success at emotion regulation, that evidence may reveal simply that people with higher WMC follow instructions better than those with lower WMC. The present study tested the hypothesis that people with higher WMC more effectively engage in spontaneous emotion regulation following negative feedback, relative to those with lower WMC. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either no feedback or negative feedback about their emotional intelligence. They then completed a disguised measure of self-enhancement and a self-report measure of affect. Experimental condition and WMC interacted such that higher WMC predicted more self-enhancement and less negative affect following negative feedback. This research provides novel insight into the consequences of individual differences in WMC and illustrates that cognitive capacity may facilitate the spontaneous self-regulation of emotion.

published proceedings

  • Emotion

author list (cited authors)

  • Schmeichel, B. J., & Demaree, H. A

citation count

  • 100

complete list of authors

  • Schmeichel, Brandon J||Demaree, Heath A

publication date

  • October 2010