Take a classic example of a driver who is running late for an appointment and another driver unexpectedly cuts him off, or how about when another driver is stuck behind a slow moving vehicle with no immediate way of getting around. If you can relate with these themes then you may have experienced a sense of frustration for the posed scenario. If you indeed had these experiences and have not acted on them by rolling down the window and yelled at the other driver then you, like most everyone else, is dutifully practicing automatic emotion regulation and emotion regulation (Mauss, Bunge & Gross, 2007).
Now, think of an instance when someone leaves decorum: a U.S. congressman yells at the U.S. President during a speech, or a musician who during an award event takes the microphone from the award winner to make a point, or a tennis player angrily disagreeing with the referee during a match.
As it turns out people have not one but two regulating systems to help control behavior (Mauss et al., 2007). Automatic regulation system, as the name suggests, occurs automatically, such as when children are being raised and told not to cry. Eventually the child regulates his emotions before they kick in. What about the second regulation system–you ask? Mauss et al., 2007 note that if the first system, for some reason, does not regulate and people have an outburst then we can mitigate the action. Emotion regulation itself, the authors note, occurs by reducing the intensity or duration of the outburst. As it turns out though, sometimes even two regulating systems are not enough. If that is the case then an apology may be in place.