Kate Petrova is a first-year PhD student at the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory. Her research encompasses two broad domains: basic questions about the nature of emotion as well as applied research at the intersection of affective science and social psychology. Her current interests include how different ways of paying attention to and labeling affective experiences shape emotion regulation. She is also curious about how people regulate their own and others’ emotions in naturalistic social interactions. Kate’s other interests include empathic processes in virtual communication, lay theories of emotion, and the development of emotion regulation across the lifespan. Kate earned her A.B. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College and spent several years working on the Harvard Study of Adult Development before joining SPL.
Education & Certifications
A.B., Bryn Mawr College, Psychology and Neuroscience (2020)
Research Assistant, Harvard Study of Adult Development
Alexithymia and emotion regulation.
Journal of affective disorders
Alexithymia is a key transdiagnostic risk factor for emotion-based psychopathologies. Conceptual models specify that this is because alexithymia impairs emotion regulation. However, the extent of these putative emotion regulation impairments remains underexplored. Our aim in this study was to begin to address this gap by examining whether people with high, average, or low levels of alexithymia differ in the types of emotion regulation strategies they typically use.General community adults from the United States (N = 501) completed a battery of alexithymia and emotion regulation measures. Participants were grouped into high, average, and low alexithymia quantiles.After controlling for demographics and current levels of distress, the high, average, and low alexithymia groups differed in their use of cognitive and behavioral emotion regulation strategies. Compared to the other groups, the high alexithymia group reported lesser use of generally adaptive regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal, approaching problems, and seeking social support) and greater use of generally maladaptive regulation strategies (expressive suppression, behavioral withdrawal, ignoring).Our data were cross-sectional and from self-report questionnaires. Future work in other cultural groups would be beneficial.Our results support the view that alexithymia is associated with impaired emotion regulation. In particular, people with high alexithymia seem to exhibit a less adaptive profile of emotion regulation strategies. Direct targeting of these emotion regulation patterns in psychotherapy may therefore be a useful pathway for the treatment of emotional disorder symptoms in people with high alexithymia.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2022.12.065
View details for PubMedID 36566943
Emotional experiences in technology-mediated and in-person interactions: an experience-sampling study.
Cognition & emotion
As the ubiquity of technology-mediated communication grows, so does the number of questions about the costs and benefits of replacing in-person interactions with technology-mediated ones. In the present study, we used a daily diary design to examine how people's emotional experiences vary across in-person, video-, phone-, and text-mediated interactions in day-to-day life. We hypothesised that individuals would report less positive affect and more negative affect after less life-like interactions (where in-person is defined as the most life-like and text-mediated as the least life-like). In line with this hypothesis, the analysis of 527 unique interactions reported by 102 individuals (mean age=19.3; 85.6% female) over the course of 7 days reveals that people feel lonelier, sadder, less affectionate, less supported, and less happy following less life-like interactions. Additional analyses show that the links between life-like communication and momentary experiences are independent of properties of individual interactions such as interaction length and participants' overall evaluations of interaction quality. These findings provide initial evidence that there may be inherent properties of common technology-mediated communication tools that may lead to momentary changes in affective experiences and make social connection more challenging.
View details for DOI 10.1080/02699931.2022.2043244
View details for PubMedID 35200113
Coherence Between Feelings and Heart Rate: Links to Early Adversity and Responses to Stress.
2021; 2 (1): 1-13
Past research suggests that higher coherence between feelings and physiology under stress may confer regulatory advantages. Research and theory also suggest that higher resting vagal tone (rVT) may promote more adaptive responses to stress. The present study examines the roles of response system coherence (RSC; defined as the within-individual covariation between feelings and heart rate over time) and rVT in mediating the links between childhood adversity and later-life responses to acute stressors. Using data from 279 adults from the Second Generation Study of the Harvard Study of Adult Development who completed stressful public speaking and mental arithmetic tasks, we find that individuals who report more childhood adversity have lower RSC, but not lower rVT. We further find that lower RSC mediates the association between adversity and slower cardiovascular recovery. Higher rVT in the present study is linked to less intense cardiovascular reactivity to stress, but not to quicker recovery or to the subjective experience of negative affect after the stressful tasks. Additional analyses indicate links between RSC and mindfulness and replicate previous findings connecting RSC to emotion regulation and well-being outcomes. Taken together, these findings are consistent with the idea that uncoupling between physiological and emotional streams of affective experiences may be one of the mechanisms connecting early adversity to later-life affective responses. These findings also provide evidence that RSC and rVT are associated with distinct aspects of self-regulation under stress.The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s42761-020-00027-5.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s42761-020-00027-5
View details for PubMedID 36042915
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9382966
Self-Distancing and Avoidance Mediate the Links Between Trait Mindfulness and Responses to Emotional Challenges
2021; 12 (4): 947-958
Mindfulness has been linked to better emotion regulation and more adaptive responses to stress across a number of studies, but the mechanisms underlying these links remain to be fully understood. The present study examines links between trait mindfulness (Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire; FFMQ) and participants' responses to common emotional challenges, focusing specifically on the roles of reduced avoidance and more self-distanced engagement as key potential mechanisms driving the adaptive benefits of trait mindfulness.Adults (n = 305, age range: 40-72) from the Second Generation Study of the Harvard Study of Adult Development completed two laboratory-based challenges - public speaking combined with difficult math tasks (the Trier Social Stress Test) and writing about a memory of a difficult moment. State anxiety and sadness were assessed immediately before and after the two stressors. To capture different ways of engaging, measures of self-distancing, avoidance, and persistent worry were collected during the lab session.As predicted, individuals who scored higher on the FFMQ experienced less anxiety and persistent worry in response to the social stressors. The FFMQ was also linked to less anxiety and sadness when writing about a difficult moment. The links between mindfulness and negative emotions after the writing task were independently mediated by self-distanced engagement and lower avoidance.Affective benefits of trait mindfulness under stress are associated with both the degree and the nature of emotional engagement. Specifically, reduced avoidance and self-distanced engagement may facilitate reflection on negative experiences that is less affectively aversive.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s12671-020-01559-4
View details for Web of Science ID 000606410800001
View details for PubMedID 34149956
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8210843
Coherence Between Feelings and Heart Rate: Links to Early Adversity and Responses to Stress
2021; 2 (1): 1–13
View details for DOI 10.1007/s42761-020-00027-5