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Emotion Regulation and the Quality of Social Interaction: Does the Ability to Evaluate Emotional Situations and Identify Effective Responses Matter?


  • We thank Rosario Cabello for allowing us to use data that she collected together with Pablo Fernández-Berrocal for our meta-analytic synthesis of findings.

concerning this article should be addressed to Paulo N. Lopes, Catholic University of Portugal, Faculty of Economics and Management, Palma de Cima, Lisbon 1649-023, Portugal. Email:


ABSTRACT We examined self and friends' ratings of social relationship quality and everyday social interactions in 3 studies involving 544 college students in Germany, Spain, and the United States. Scores on a situational judgment test measuring strategic emotion regulation ability (SERA) were negatively related to conflict with others. SERA was more consistently and strongly related to conflict with others than to the positive dimension of relationship quality (support, companionship, and nurturance). The relationship between SERA and conflict was generally not mediated by trait positive or negative affect, and it remained significant or marginally significant controlling for the Big Five personality traits. These findings highlight the importance of the ability to evaluate emotional situations and identify effective responses to these in interpersonal emotion regulation. Furthermore, they suggest that situational judgment and flexible response selection may help people to manage conflicts more than to bond with others.