According to expectancy-value models of self-regulation, people are motivated to act in ways they expect to be useful to them. For instance, people are motivated to run when they believe running is useful, even when they have nothing to run away from. Similarly, we propose an expectancy-value model of emotion regulation, according to which people are motivated to emote in ways they expect to be useful to them, regardless of immediate contextual demands. For instance, people may be motivated to get angry when they believe anger is useful, even when there is nothing to be angry about. In 5 studies, we demonstrate that leading people to expect an emotion to be useful increased their motivation to experience that emotion (Studies 1-5), led them to up-regulate the experience of that emotion (Studies 3-4), and led to emotion-consistent behavior (Study 4). Our hypotheses were supported when we manipulated the expected value of anxiety (Study 1) and anger (Studies 2-5), both consciously (Studies 1-4) and unconsciously (Study 5). We discuss the theoretical and pragmatic implications of the proposed model.
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