One of life’s great challenges is successfully regulating emotions. Do some emotion regulation strategies have more to recommend them than others? According to Gross’s (1998, Review of General Psychology, 2, 271–299) process model of emotion regulation, strategies that act early in the emotion-generative process should have a different profile of consequences than strategies that act later on. This review focuses on two commonly used strategies for down-regulating emotion. The first, reappraisal, comes early in the emotion-generative process. It consists of changing the way a situation is construed so as to decrease its emotional impact. The second, suppression, comes later in the emotion-generative process. It consists of inhibiting the outward signs of inner feelings. Experimental and individual-difference studies find reappraisal is often more effective than suppression. Reappraisal decreases emotion experience and behavioral expression, and has no impact on memory. By contrast, suppression decreases behavioral expression, but fails to decrease emotion experience, and actually impairs memory. Suppression also increases physiological responding for suppressors and their social partners. This review concludes with a consideration of five important directions for future research on emotion regulation processes.
Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39(3), 281-291.