Emotion Regulation as a Scientific Construct: Methodological Challenges and Directions for Child Development Research



Emotion regulation has emerged as a popular topic, but there is doubt about its viability as a scientific construct. This article identifies conceptual and methodological challenges in this area of study and describes exemplar studies that provide a substantive basis for inferring emotion regulation. On the basis of those studies, 4 methods are described that provide compelling evidence for emotion regulation: independent measurement of activated emotion and purported regulatory processes; analysis of temporal relations; measurement across contrasting conditions; and multiple, convergent measures. By offering this perspective, this article aims to engage thoughtful debate and critical analysis, with the goal of increasing methodological rigor and advancing an understanding of emotion regulation as a scientific construct.