What do I want to feel? Emotion goals in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood

Belén López-Pérez*, Michaela Gummerum, Marcos Jiménez, Maya Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Beliefs about emotion utility can influence context-sensitive emotion goals (i.e., desired emotional responses). Although key for emotion regulation, emotion goals have been overlooked in children and adolescents. In 2018–2019 results of Studies 1 and 2 showed that children (N = 192, Mage = 8.65, 47% girls, 96% White) were less motivated by and found anger less useful in confrontation than adolescents (N = 192, Mage = 12.96, 50% girls, 93% White) and adults (N = 195, Mage = 29.82, 51% women, 96% White). The link between emotion goals and beliefs about emotion utility was weaker in children. In 2021, Study 3 (N = 60, 8-year-olds, 47% girls, 90% White) ruled out expectations as a possible explanation for the previous findings. Context-sensitive utility of emotions may be acquired during development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalChild Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Child Development published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Research in Child Development.


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