Evidence for utilitarian motives in emotion regulation

Maya Tamir*, Brett Q. Ford, Margaret Gilliam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This investigation demonstrates that emotion regulation can be driven by considerations of utility per se. We show that as participants prepared for a negotiation, those who were motivated to confront (vs. collaborate with) another person believed that anger would be more useful to them. However, only participants who were motivated to confront another and expected to receive a monetary reward for their performance (i.e., high utility), were motivated to increase their anger in preparation for the negotiation. Participants who were motivated to confront another but did not expect their performance to be rewarded (i.e., low utility), did not try to increase their anger, even though they expected anger to be useful in the negotiation. Such patterns demonstrate that people are motivated to experience even unpleasant emotions to maximise utility.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)483-491
Number of pages9
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to: Maya Tamir, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel. E-mail: [email protected] This work was supported by a National Science Foundation grant (SES 0920918) to MT.


  • Anger
  • Emotion regulation
  • Negotiations
  • Utility


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