Lisanne Pauw together with Disa Sauter, Gerben van Kleef and Agneta Fischer recently published an article in Cognition and Emotion.
When others cry, many of us feel impelled to attend and respond to them. But how? This study examined whether the regulatory demand of a situation impacts the way others regulate the emotions of those who cry. Self-report and behavioral data converged to show that, as hypothesized, when regulatory demand was high, requiring immediate down-regulation, participants provided less socio-affective support, but made more attempts to help the other disengage from the emotional experience by encouraging suppression and distraction. Cognitive support provision, however, was unaffected by regulatory demand. The present study contributes to the literature on emotion regulation by showing that context also shapes the way people try to down-regulate others’ negative emotions. Despite the overall effectiveness associated with the different types of regulation strategies, individuals seem to be aware that what works in one situation may not work in another, and act accordingly.