Emotional inertia represents the extent to which individuals’ emotions tend to carry over from one time point to the next. High emotional inertia indicates low emotion regulation ability and has been associated with psychological maladjustment and mood disorders. However, the extent of genetic influence on emotional inertia, particularly in adolescents, is largely unknown. The current study examined genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in emotional inertia. This study followed a sample of 447 17-year-old same-sex UK twins (41% males) with an innovative intensive longitudinal daily diary design that captured their intra-individual emotion fluctuations over one month. Adolescents reported their positive and negative emotions once a day consecutively for up to 40 days. Time series analyses were used to construct emotional inertia and classical twin analyses were used to disentangle its genetic and environmental influences. The results showed that inertia for positive emotion was only modestly heritable and inertia for negative emotion showed no heritability at all. Both measures showed predominantly non-shared environmental influences. These findings highlight the importance of unique environmental influences in shaping individual differences in how well adolescents regulate their emotions and how easily they move from one emotional state to another in daily life. The importance of identifying specific environmental influences on emotional inertia is discussed, and suggestions of what those influences might be are offered.
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- emotional inertia
- twin study
- intensive longitudinal data
- non-shared environmental influences