Indexed on: 09 Oct '13Published on: 09 Oct '13Published in: Emotion (Washington, D.C.)
Contemporary emotion regulation research emphasizes intrapersonal processes such as cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, but people experiencing affect commonly choose not to go it alone. Instead, individuals often turn to others for help in shaping their affective lives. How and under what circumstances does such interpersonal regulation modulate emotional experience? Although scientists have examined allied phenomena such as social sharing, empathy, social support, and prosocial behavior for decades, there have been surprisingly few attempts to integrate these data into a single conceptual framework of interpersonal regulation. Here we propose such a framework. We first map a "space" differentiating classes of interpersonal regulation according to whether an individual uses an interpersonal regulatory episode to alter their own or another person's emotion. We then identify 2 types of processes--response-dependent and response-independent--that could support interpersonal regulation. This framework classifies an array of processes through which interpersonal contact fulfills regulatory goals. More broadly, it organizes diffuse, heretofore independent data on "pieces" of interpersonal regulation, and identifies growth points for this young and exciting research domain.