Research Topic

The Social Dimension of Emotion Regulation

About this Research Topic

Emotions and emotion regulation occur in social contexts. We may be unhappy when others earn more, but not admit it when they are around; we may follow our co-workers' leads in not expressing our anger towards superiors; and we may be more likely to select a movie for a date if our friends enjoyed it. Social ...

Emotions and emotion regulation occur in social contexts. We may be unhappy when others earn more, but not admit it when they are around; we may follow our co-workers' leads in not expressing our anger towards superiors; and we may be more likely to select a movie for a date if our friends enjoyed it. Social comparisons, social adaptations, and social appraisals are just a few examples of how the emergence and regulation of emotions are shaped by the social context.

Emotion regulation entails changing if, when, and how emotions are experienced, e.g., by selecting emotional situations. From the perspective that emotions change continuously, no clear distinction between emotion emergence and emotion regulation exists. Emotion regulation in a broad sense includes situations where the social context regulates if, when, and how emotions emerge. Emotion regulation can be extrinsic (A regulates B's emotions) and/or intrinsic (A regulates A's emotion). The social context can influence both, with the latter occurring, for example, after the internalization of emotion knowledge.

The importance of the social context for children's emotional development is evident in research on attachment and family dynamics, but this research can only provide limited insight into the mechanisms underlying adult regulation because of differences in cognitive abilities and social contexts (e.g. work context). The importance of the social context for adult emotion regulation is increasingly being examined theoretically and empirically. It is time to showcase this new research in order to discern common themes and set the ground for future research.

The aim of this Research Topic is to bring together state-of-the-art research on the mechanisms by which the social context influences emotion regulation, such as research on social comparison processes, social adaptation, emotional contagion, social stress, social situation selection, social appraisals, and neural correlates of emotion regulation in the context of social situations. We anticipate contributions will showcase research using various paradigms, ranging from highly controlled lab settings to settings with high ecological validity. We expect research will encompass different levels of analysis, including group emotions, individual behavior, and neural correlates, and it will highlight the significance of the social dimension of emotion regulation in many areas including social influence, conflict behavior, pro-social behavior, economic decision making, mental health, and interpersonal behavior with strangers, co-workers, and partners.


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