Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Laura A. Knight, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lisa Newell, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D.

Abstract

The 2015 Disney Pixar film Inside Out© has garnered significant attention from mental health professionals since its release. Despite its popularity, no study to date has empirically evaluated the film’s effectiveness in improving children’s emotion competence. Thus, the researcher pilot-tested a group intervention for parents and children designed to reduce expressive suppression and increase emotion acceptance. Twenty children ages 7 to 12 participated in the current study; fifteen (5 males) were randomly assigned to the treatment condition, which involved watching the movie Inside Out© and participating in a therapist-facilitated discussion, and 5 (3 males) participated in a movie-only control group. Eighteen parents also participated. All participants completed self- and other-report measures of emotion regulation and acceptance. Children in the treatment condition participated in the intervention: a group discussion about the film, which parents watched and followed along using handouts. Parents and children in the treatment group received handouts after the intervention about emotion regulation. Children and parents in the control condition watched the film only, without a group discussion or handouts afterward.

Changes in emotion regulation, suppression, and acceptance were assessed via a pretest-posttest design in which participants completed the same measures 4 weeks after participating in the study. Results from analyses indicated that children in the treatment condition demonstrated significant improvement on measures of emotion sharing and acceptance (p’s < .05). Results from feedback measures suggested that parents perceived the intervention to be helpful in teaching them effective ways of discussing emotions with their children, and that most participants rated the intervention as at least moderately interesting. These results suggest that Inside Out© might serve as an effective springboard for teaching emotion competence.

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