Three Views of Emotion Regulation and Health



Humans are self-regulating dynamic systems. Health represents an overall state of the system and emotions play a central role. Understanding emotion, self-regulation, and health is complicated by the fact that emotion regulation can be conceptualized in at least three ways: (i) emotions can be seen as one component of a general self-regulatory system that modifies our overall responses in the service of goal-directed behavior, (ii) the emotion system itself operates through internal feedback processes that help to keep our physical and psychological systems in balance and within an optimal range of functioning, and (iii) emotions can become the target of self-regulatory efforts. Each of these views of emotion regulation emphasizes somewhat different connections to health. This review considers the meanings of emotion, regulation, and health and presents research relevant to each of the three views of emotion regulation.