Berkeley Undergraduate Journal
Interpersonal Emotion Regulation: Strategies, Behaviors, and Goals
- Author(s): Loskot, Taylor
- et al.
Interpersonal emotion regulation (ER) happens constantly in daily life and plays a role in the success of friendships and relationships. Interpersonal ER refers to the process in which an individual makes efforts to change the emotional experience of another person. Understanding the relationship between interpersonal ER strategies and goals proves necessary towards discerning the effectiveness of different interpersonal ER strategies in various situations. Building on existing research, common strategies used to regulate others’ emotions include helping a partner to accept their emotions (acceptance), change the way they think about their emotions (reappraisal), or inhibit their emotions (suppression). However, alternative strategies may prove to be equally, if not more, common. Additionally, the goals and behaviors associated with interpersonal ER have not been extensively studied. In the present study, I examine the goals associated with interpersonal ER strategies, including the exploration of an additional strategy: distraction. To examine which strategies and goals people are likely to use in a scenario in which a friend is expressing negative feelings, 347 students wrote narratives regarding how they would respond. As expected, acceptance and reappraisal were found to be the most common, while suppression was used least frequently. Results point to the importance of distraction as a common interpersonal ER strategy. Significant relationships were found between four distinct strategies and related goals and behaviors, suggesting that individuals are motivated by specific regulatory, instrumental, and social outcomes beyond basic regulation of emotions. Discussion focuses on how these findings point to newavenues in interpersonal ER research.