Emotion Goals in Psychopathology: A New Perspective on Dysfunctional Emotion Regulation

Yael Millgram*, Jonathan D. Huppert, Maya Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Emotion-regulation deficits characterize many psychiatric disorders. To understand such deficits, researchers have focused on emotion-regulation strategies. Building on a motivational approach to emotion regulation, we suggest that to understand emotion regulation in psychopathology, it is necessary to also focus on emotion goals (i.e., what people want to feel). Emotion goals shape whether, when, and how people regulate emotions. Therefore, emotion-regulation deficits might emerge as a function of the emotion goals pursued. Initial research suggests that individuals struggling with psychopathology differ from individuals without psychopathology in how much they want to feel certain emotions and that such differences carry implications for emotion regulation and mental health. In this article, we review this empirical evidence, discuss how research on emotion goals can inform clinical theories and practice, and highlight promising future directions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)242-247
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • emotion regulation
  • goals
  • motivation
  • psychopathology


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