Sometimes we regulate our emotions, and other times we need to regulate the emotions of others. In this investigation, we tested whether the ability to regulate one’s own emotions and the ability to regulate other’s emotions are related. We assessed regulators’ self-oriented emotion regulation ability by measuring their own emotional experiences in a self-oriented emotion regulation task. We assessed regulators’ other-oriented emotion regulation ability by measuring the emotional experiences of their targets in an other-oriented emotion regulation task. We found that self-oriented and other-oriented emotion regulation abilities were not significantly related. However, people were better able to regulate targets who were better at regulating themselves. People who frequently used self-oriented emotion regulation strategies (e.g., distraction) had greater self-oriented, but not other-oriented, emotion regulation ability. People with greater self-oriented emotion regulation ability made themselves feel less unpleasant emotions upon regulating their emotions. People with greater other-oriented emotion regulation ability made both the target of regulation and themselves feel less unpleasant emotions upon regulating the target’s emotions. The target and regulator also felt closer to one another when the regulator had greater other-oriented emotion regulation ability. These findings suggest that the ability to regulate the emotions of others might be linked to desirable personal and social outcomes, even in interactions among strangers.
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- emotion regulation
- individual differences
- interpersonal emotion regulation