Regulating emotions under exposure to negative out-group-related news material results in increased acceptance of out-groups

Minja Westerlund, Pekka Santtila, Jan Antfolk

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Abstract

Negative emotions affect the acceptance of out-groups. Here, we investigated

whether modifying negative emotions would affect perceptions of out-groups.

We experimentally manipulated the use of two emotion regulation strategies:

suppression of emotional expression and cognitive reappraisal, the latter

involving reframing a situation to mitigate its emotional impact. Using

a population-based sample (N = 317), we conducted an online randomized

controlled trial. Participants regulated their emotions while reading threatening

news about out-groups. Not only reappraisal, but also suppression

increased immediate acceptance of out-groups. The effect of reappraisal was

partly mediated by decreased disgust, suggesting unique effects of reappraisal

on this emotion. In the suppression condition acceptance decreased at high

levels of habitual emotion regulation, whereas reappraisal showed an opposite

tendency. Previous research may have underestimated the importance of

different emotion regulation strategies on prejudice, and that relatively simple

interventions can affect prejudice. The findings are of interest to prejudice

prevention programs.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • emotion

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