Tag Archives: Emotion Regulation

What makes us happy on Valentine’s Day?

Cut-out book of Valentines circa 1940.

Valentine’s Day was established in honor of three early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, but today people celebrate romantic love or love more generally.  Since romance is so salient on this holiday, people who are single can feel ostracized and sometimes motivated to support an anti-love mantra.  I wonder if the second biggest Hallmark holiday is really worth the hype (either for or against). Is love or a partner really what makes people happy in life?

Perhaps one of the answers can be found by looking at one of the current hot topics in social psychology research: the intersection of emotion regulation and well being.  A quick look at the latest program from the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology reveals numerous talks and posters on the topic of mindfulness and emotion regulation.

A recent paper points to the importance of the perspective from which people try to adaptively reflect on their feelings.  According to Ayduk and Kross (2010), participants who analyzed negative experiences from a self-distanced perspective (versus a self-immersed perspective) were less likely to ruminate and reported less negative emotions.  Maybe people’s affective experiences on Valentine’s Day have more to do with how they think about their lives and less about relationship status.

Read more:

Ayduk, Ö. and Kross, E. (2010). Analyzing negative experiences without ruminating: The role of self-distancing in enabling adaptive self-reflection. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 841–854.

Meditation vs. Medication: Which Should You Choose?

When Two Regulating Systems Is Not Enough

ArgueTake 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.

square-eye Read more: Joe Wilson’s outburst

square-eye Read more: Popular figures leave decorum behind

square-eye Mauss, I.B, Bunge, S.A., & Gross, J.J. (2007). Automatic Emotion Regulation.

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