The Social Regulation of Emotion: An Integrative, Cross-Disciplinary Model

Trends Cogn Sci. 2016 Jan;20(1):47-63. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.09.003. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Research in emotion regulation has largely focused on how people manage their own emotions, but there is a growing recognition that the ways in which we regulate the emotions of others also are important. Drawing on work from diverse disciplines, we propose an integrative model of the psychological and neural processes supporting the social regulation of emotion. This organizing framework, the 'social regulatory cycle', specifies at multiple levels of description the act of regulating another person's emotions as well as the experience of being a target of regulation. The cycle describes the processing stages that lead regulators to attempt to change the emotions of a target person, the impact of regulation on the processes that generate emotions in the target, and the underlying neural systems.

Keywords: emotion perception; emotion regulation; empathy; mentalizing; social cognition; social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Control, Formal / methods*