Beliefs about the ability to control specific emotions

Tony Gutentag*, Elise K. Kalokerinos, Maya Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

People hold divergent beliefs regarding the controllability of their emotions. These beliefs can refer to emotion, in general, or to a particular emotion. But are beliefs about particular emotions distinct and emotion-specific or do they capture one general construct? To address this question, in this investigation, we tested the emotion-specificity of such beliefs. In Study 1 (N = 244), we assessed beliefs about the ability to control sadness, anger, and disgust, cross-sectionally. Beliefs about the ability to control specific emotions were associated but psychometrically distinct. As expected, beliefs about the ability to control a specific emotion were largely associated with experiences of that emotion at both the trait and state levels, although there was some overlap. In Study 2 (N = 157), we tested beliefs about the ability to control sadness and irritation in daily life, over 7 daily diaries. As expected, beliefs about the ability to control a specific emotion were associated with the respective trait emotion, and prospectively and differentially predicted experiences of that emotion in daily life. These findings demonstrate that although there is some commonality across them, beliefs about the ability to control particular emotions are emotion-specific. Accordingly, to better understand the experience and regulation of specific emotions, it may be useful to assess beliefs about the controllability of those emotions, in particular.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)448-460
Number of pages13
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Artery Chair in Personality Studies Endowed by Goldberg, Geller and Luria (M.T.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Controllability
  • Emotion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Implicit theories

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