According to hedonic approaches to psychological health, healthy individuals should pursue pleasant and avoid unpleasant emotions. According to instrumental approaches, however, healthy individuals should pursue useful and avoid harmful emotions, whether pleasant or unpleasant. We sought to reconcile these approaches by distinguishing between preferences for emotions that are aggregated across contexts and preferences for emotions within specific contexts. Across five days, we assessed daily confrontational and collaborative demands and daily preferences for anger and happiness. Somewhat consistent with hedonic approaches, when averaging across contexts, psychologically healthier individuals wanted to feel less anger, but not more happiness. Somewhat consistent with instrumental approaches, when examined within contexts, psychologically healthier individuals wanted to feel angrier in more confrontational contexts, and some wanted to feel happier in more collaborative contexts. Thus, although healthier individuals are motivated to avoid unpleasant emotions over time, they are more motivated to experience them when they are potentially useful.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.
- Emotion regulation
- Emotional flexibility
- Psychological health