Helping Others Regulate Emotion Predicts Increased Regulation of One’s Own Emotions and Decreased Symptoms of Depression

Journal Article

Although much research considers how individuals manage their own emotions, less is known about the emotional benefits of regulating the emotions of others. We examined this topic in a 3-week study of an online platform providing training and practice in the social regulation of emotion. We found that participants who engaged more by helping others (vs. sharing and receiving support for their own problems) showed greater decreases in depression, mediated by increased use of reappraisal in daily life. Moreover, social regulation messages with more other-focused language (i.e., second-person pronouns) were (a) more likely to elicit expressions of gratitude from recipients and (b) predictive of increased use of reappraisal over time for message composers, suggesting perspective-taking enhances the benefits of practicing social regulation. These findings unpack potential mechanisms of socially oriented training in emotion regulation and suggest that by helping others regulate, we may enhance our own regulatory skills and emotional well-being.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Doré, BP; Morris, RR; Burr, DA; Picard, RW; Ochsner, KN

Published Date

  • May 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 43 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 729 - 739

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-7433

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0146-1672

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0146167217695558

Language

  • en