Emotion regulation choice: a conceptual framework and supporting evidence

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2014 Feb;143(1):163-81. doi: 10.1037/a0030831. Epub 2012 Nov 19.


Choice behavior is considered the fundamental means by which individuals exert control over their environments. One important choice domain that remains virtually unexplored is that of emotion regulation. This is surprising given that healthy adaptation requires flexibly choosing between regulation strategies in a manner that is responsive to differing situational demands. In the present article, we provide a broad conceptual framework that systematically evaluates the rules that govern the ways individuals choose between different emotion regulation strategies. This conceptual account is buttressed by empirical findings from 6 studies that show the effects of hypothesized emotional, cognitive, and motivational determinants of regulation choice (Studies 1-3) and illuminate the mechanisms that underlie choices between different emotion regulation strategies (Studies 4-6). Broad implications and future directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Control, Informal*