MSPS Colloquium: Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann

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Regulating other people’s emotions: What do we do, and when do we do it?

ABSTRACT: The experience of having emotions and then regulating these emotions lies at the core of the human condition, and touches on many areas of psychology research. Emotion regulation refers to the processes people use to control the duration, intensity, timing and type of emotions they experience. There is a large and exponentially growing evidence base for emotion regulation as a predictor of well-being, positioning emotion regulation as a transdiagnostic construct. However, the vast majority of research focuses on how people regulate their own emotions (intrinsic emotion regulation). Much less is known about when and when and why people attempt to regulate others’ emotions (extrinsic emotion regulation) and the strategies they use to do this. In this talk, I discuss the concept of extrinsic emotion regulation and present some emerging evidence that: a) certain extrinsic regulation strategies are linked with greater personal wellbeing and relationship wellbeing; b) that we are more likely to attempt regulation and use high-engagement strategies for different kinds of targets; and c) that differences in the target’s perspective, regulator’s perspective and shared perspective of emotion regulation are important for different outcomes.

BIO: Carolyn MacCann is an associate professor at The University of Sydney’s School of Psychology. She received her PhD from The University of Sydney in 2006, and completed post-doctoral training at the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, NJ, USA) and the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW). Her research addresses how emotion-related characteristics lead to work success, educational success, and greater mental health and wellbeing. Two major concepts in her research are emotional intelligence abilities and emotion regulation processes, including psychometric assessment of these. She is an associate editor of Personality Science, the open-access journal of the European Association for Personality Psychology.

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