Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Ellen Leen-Feldner

Committee Member

Matthew Feldner

Second Committee Member

Lindsay Ham-Holm


Approach, Avoidance, Emotion Regulation, Sleep Deprivation


Emotion regulation and sleep have been identified as mechanisms that may be involved in the development and maintenance of many mental health disorders. However, there has been little research into the relation between sleep and emotion regulation. To address this gap in knowledge, a novel study was conducted. We hypothesized that sleep deprived individuals would demonstrate less approach behavior toward a negatively valenced stimulus, as well as increased self-reported avoidance, compared to a control group. To test this, a randomized controlled experiment using a behavioral measure of approach and a self-report measure of avoidance was conducted. Fifty-two healthy individuals ages 18-30 years old who did not meet criteria for any current mental health disorders were recruited. Participants were randomly assigned to a full night of sleep deprivation or normal sleep and completed a baseline and post-manipulation behavioral avoidance task (BAT) and self-report of avoidance behavior. Repeated measures ANOVAs demonstrated there were no significant effects of sleep deprivation on approach behaviors. However, self-reported avoidance increased for the sleep deprived participants. Results highlight a discrepancy between predicted and actual behavior, specifically, the effect of sleep deprivation on behavioral approach toward a specific stimulus compared to more resource-intensive cognitive and behavioral approaches found in daily life. This may guide future work investigating top-down and bottom-up processing of emotion regulation.