Benefits of emotional integration and costs of emotional distancing

Guy Roth, Bat Hen Shahar, Yael Zohar-Shefer, Moti Benita, Anat Moed, Uri Bibi, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: Three studies explored the consequences of the self-determination theory conception of integrative emotion regulation (IER; Ryan & Deci, 2017), which involves an interested stance toward emotions. Emotional, physiological, and cognitive consequences of IER were compared to the consequences of emotional distancing (ED), in relation to a fear-eliciting film. Method: In Study 1, we manipulated emotion regulation by prompting students' (N = 90) IER and ED and also included a control group. Then we tested groups' defensive versus nondefensive emotional processing, coded from post-film written texts. Study 2 (N = 90) and Study 3 (N = 135) used the same emotion regulation manipulations but exposed participants to the fear-eliciting film twice, 72 hr apart, to examine each style's protection from adverse emotional, physiological, and cognitive costs at second exposure. Results: Participants who had been prompted to practice IER were expected to benefit more than participants in the ED and control groups at second exposure, as manifested in lower arousal and better cognitive capacity. Overall, results supported our hypotheses. Conclusions: The current studies provide some support for the assumption that in comparison to ED, taking interest in and accepting one's negative emotions are linked with less defensive processing of negative experiences and with better functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-934
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this article was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF). We would like to thank Nadav Shechter from NBT for his dedicated support with MindWare and Noldus technologies.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research reported in this article was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • emotion regulation
  • emotional distancing
  • integration
  • self-determination


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