Indexed on: 21 Jul '19Published on: 20 Jul '19Published in: Personality & social psychology bulletin
Emotion regulation strategies have been typically studied independently of the specific emotions people try to change by using them. However, to the extent that negative emotions are inherently different from one another, people may choose different means to change them. Focusing on fear and sadness, we first mapped emotion-related content to theoretically matched reappraisal tactics. We then tested how frequently people choose such reappraisal tactics when regulating fear and sadness (Studies 1, 2, and 4a). As predicted, people were most likely to select reappraisal tactics that targeted content that was particularly relevant to the specific emotion they tried to regulate. Next, we tested whether such choices were driven by differences in the efficacy (Study 3), perceived efficacy (Study 4b), and anticipated effort (Study 4c) of regulation. Our findings demonstrate that the means people select to regulate their emotions depend on which emotions they try to regulate.