Development of a theoretically and empirically grounded emotion knowledge training for the young.

Hovasapian, Arpine; Huyghe, Veerle E.I.; Schlegel, Katja; Fontaine, Johnny R.J. (2022). Development of a theoretically and empirically grounded emotion knowledge training for the young. Open research Europe European Commission 10.12688/openreseurope.14391.1

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Background: Digital mental health trainings can be an impactful and efficient way to promote well-being and prevent psychopathology during the sensitive developmental periods of adolescence and young adulthood. However, many online and app-based trainings are often not grounded in science or have low engagement rates due to poor usability. The aim of the current project was to tackle both of these issues in the development of an emotional competence skills training for youth (target age: 16-22). Given that deficits in emotional competence constitute a risk factor for poor mental health, we built a training that aims to increase knowledge and understanding of emotions and the processes that underlie them. Methods: As a theoretical base, we used the Component Process Model to teach youth to understand their emotional experiences as a dynamic process that involves the activation of appraisals, bodily reactions, expressions, action tendencies and subjective feelings. To avoid issues related to low engagement, we included youth across various stages throughout the development of the training program, which allowed us to make changes incrementally at each stage. Feedback from several focus groups, Youth Advisory Board meetings, and a pilot study resulted in the development of a gamified emotional knowledge skills training that teaches young people how to understand, recognize, and reflect on their emotions. Results: Results showed that when it came to digital mental health trainings, youth valued personalization, relatability, fast and colorful graphics, professional audiovisual elements, interactivity, ease-of-use, privacy protection and scientific legitimacy. Conclusions: In this paper, we describe and reflect on the process of developing the training and offer suggestions to help guide future researchers in building mental health trainings that are both supported by science and appealing to young users.
This paper describes how a new e-health training was developed, of which the aim is to teach young people about emotions using scientific theory. Topics in the training include: ‘What is an emotion?’, and ‘How can we recognize emotions?’. Learning about emotions can help youth understand their emotional lives, which can promote well-being and prevent psychological issues. The training was developed to be a scientifically grounded training that is engaging for users. We built this training for a non-clinical young audience (16-22), as this is a critical developmental life stage where having access to mental health knowledge is important. The training was built using a theory of emotion that conceptualizes emotions as reactions to a goal-relevant event and consisting of different components: thoughts, bodily sensations, gestures (expressions), actions one wants to take and subjective feelings. Feedback from youth was collected through focus groups, sessions of the Youth Advisory Board, and an anonymous survey. From their input we learned that young people find the following important in digital mental health trainings: personalization, relatability, fast and colorful graphics, professional audiovisual elements, interactivity, ease-of-use, privacy protection and scientific legitimacy. The resulting training consists of psychoeducation videos and content related questions, stimuli from which emotions are identified (i.e., photo and video expressions, and emotion vignettes) and reflection exercises. The content was organized in 10 ‘sessions’ and these were categorized into four ‘challenges’: introduction, parts of an emotion, regulating emotions, recognizing emotions and a summary session. The sessions increase in difficulty and unlock as the user progresses. To conclude, we developed a new e-health training about emotions that is both scientifically grounded and takes the end-user into account.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Personality Psychology, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics

UniBE Contributor:

Schlegel, Katja


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 370 Education




European Commission




Karin Dubler

Date Deposited:

19 Mar 2024 10:56

Last Modified:

19 Mar 2024 10:56

Publisher DOI:



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