From emotions to affect regulation systems: Development of the EASEL-3 index

Ana Margarida Pinto*, Claudia Figueiredo, R. Geenen, Paula Castilho, José A.P. da Silva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractOther research output


Background. It is well-established that emotions are pivotal for one’s overall
welfare, and that, when dysregulated, they provide a diathesis for psychopathology
(1-2). The ‘three-circle model’ (3) proposes the existence of
three affect regulation systems – threat, drive, and soothing – responsible
for managing threats, satisfy needs and attain valued resources/rewards, and
support a sense of safeness and body restoration. When unbalanced, however,
these systems may contribute to the emergence of physical and psychological
symptoms, including fibromyalgia (4-5). Yet, the quantification
of such imbalance has been hindered by the lack of a measurement system.
Objective. The study aims to address this gap by developing a new tool
capable of estimating the degree of activation of each system.
Methods. Given the lack of a gold-standard, an expert survey methodology
was used. A total of 70 experts from different backgrounds, grouped in three
independent panels, were asked to estimate how much a pre-set of discrete
emotions activated each one of the affect regulation systems.
Results. A high agreement among experts was attained regarding which
emotions loaded in which system and how much they ‘activated’ it. Results
were used to derive the Emotions-Affect Systems ELicitation index
(EASEL-3) – a weighted estimation of the activation of the three systems.
Conclusion. The EASEL-3 constitutes a stepping stone in the development
of a measurement system for quantifying the activation of the systems.
While further validation and testing of is warranted, the potential value and
impact of the EASEL-3 in the assessment, classification and treatment of
physical and mental disorders is promising.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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