Healthy and Unhealthy Emotion Regulation: Personality Processes, Individual Differences, and Life Span Development

Authors


  • Preparation of this article was supported by Grants MH43948 and MH58147 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Correspondence should be addressed to Oliver P. John, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650. Electronic mail may be sent to ojohn@socrates.berkeley.edu.

Abstract

Abstract Individuals regulate their emotions in a wide variety of ways. Are some forms of emotion regulation healthier than others? We focus on two commonly used emotion regulation strategies: reappraisal (changing the way one thinks about a potentially emotion-eliciting event) and suppression (changing the way one responds behaviorally to an emotion-eliciting event). In the first section, we review experimental findings showing that reappraisal has a healthier profile of short-term affective, cognitive, and social consequences than suppression. In the second section, we review individual-difference findings, which show that using reappraisal to regulate emotions is associated with healthier patterns of affect, social functioning, and well-being than is using suppression. In the third section, we consider issues in the development of reappraisal and suppression and provide new evidence for a normative shift toward an increasingly healthy emotion regulation profile during adulthood (i.e., increases in the use of reappraisal and decreases in the use of suppression).

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