Don't worry, be happy? Neuroticism, trait-consistent affect regulation, and performance

Maya Tamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


People regulate their affect either to feel good or to achieve instrumental success. The present experiments show that when driven by performance goals, people can be motivated to experience unpleasant affect when it is trait-consistent, because of its instrumental benefits (e.g., M. Tamir & M. D. Robinson, 2004). In 4 studies, individuals high in neuroticism were more likely than those low in neuroticism to choose to increase their level of worry, as indicated by self-reported preferences (Study 1) and by behavioral choices in experimental settings (Studies 2-4). As predicted, such preferences were evident when expecting to perform demanding tasks but not when expecting an undemanding task (Study 2). Study 4 suggests that such preferences for short-term unpleasant affect may be beneficial to performance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)449-461
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect/emotion regulation
  • Motivation
  • Neuroticism
  • Performance


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