Everyone regulates their emotions and some better than others. A majority of the time we do not even realize we are doing so because of a very powerful unconscious. Emotion regulation is a relatively new section of psychology because it has yet to be extensively researched. Such unexplored areas tend to be even a little fuzzy to even the most understanding of researchers. James J. Gross of Stanford University is one of the comparatively few researchers in this field and has written many psychologically recognized papers on different aspects of emotion regulation.
A significant article about the ideas of emotion regulation that also states many conducted experiments is titled “Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. ” Many of his articles and ideas closely relate to the ideas contained within Benedict Carey’s New York Times article entitled “Mind-Polishing Tools for Your Fuse Box of Emotions. ”While these two articles by Gross and Carey both narrowly focus on a small portion of today’s psychological knowledge, there is a sharp contrast in their views of the topic.
Perhaps by preferences of the author or what may be lack of knowledge on the author’s behalf, it is more than pure scientific evidence that produced such similar articles that differ on so many levels at the same time. Both written materials of course have an audience, but the audiences to which they appeal are entire opposites. Both authors tend to also have slightly differing views it seems but it is apparent in what they have written that they both coincide on the idea that poor emotion suppression plays its largest role in the social environment.
However, even though suppression is a main focus for both, Carey’s article tends to drift towards seeing suppression in a mostly negative light. The New York Times, the source of Carey’s popular press article, is more directly aimed toward the general public with the intent of informing. Therefore, the emotion regulation article doesn’t assume the reader knows anything about the subject and so starts off by introducing the topic and slowly works its way further into topic while never really going too far into scientific depth.
Instead of using made-up examples as Gross does which may not be relative to the general public, Carey chooses real-life examples that tend to be more connected to the everyday life of U. S. citizens as goes his opening sentence: “The longing for President Obama to vent some fury at oil executives or bankers may run deeper than politics” (Carey, 2010, para. 1). Such statements appear to be just an example, yet they also hold the author’s view of the situation, especially in an opening sentence. Such views usually set the tone or attitude for the rest of the article.
This is not so, however, in one of Gross’s first statements where his example in one that has no depth: “Sometimes, emotions are triggered virtually automatically, such as when we recoil fearfully from a snake” (Gross, 2002). The example he uses, as previously stated, is not one that every person reading his article may know or have experienced but it also effective and contradicts the popular press article because it is an example which holds no emotional value. By not using emotion to shape his example, it is evident that Gross is not trying to persuade the reader to one view in any way, but rather just tells the facts.
These forms of expressions are typical of a scholarly or peer reviewed article but that doesn’t mean that Carey couldn’t use this form of fact telling to get his point across. Content with emotional backup is favored by a reader just wanting a general picture because it makes for a more interesting read which is obviously Carey’s type of audience and not Gross’s. As far as content of the articles is concerned, it seems that the social consequences of emotion suppression are the bigger picture and focus of them both.
Research in the past few years has found that people develop a variety of psychological tools to manage what they express in social situations, and those techniques often become subconscious, affecting interactions in unintended ways” (Carey, 2010, para. 6). Obviously what emotions we portray in interactions with others will affect the reactions of the partner and your own. Letting these emotions flow, whether positive or negative, seems to be a great way to release weight off your shoulders, so to speak. On the other hand, how we let emotions flow and to what extent has a major impact on our relationships with others.
Positive portrayal of emotions is always the key to keeping healthy interactions. Even if it is anger that you are showing, sometimes letting the other person know why you are angry allows both of you to work on a solution which in turn is a positive consequence. Suppression is found to also lessen the psychological experience of a situation and also negatively decrease memory abilities during that period of time (Gross, 2002). Introverts therefore, keeping their personal feelings secret, would not mentally feel as strongly about an exciting event as someone who would greatly express their joy or excitement.
So it seems that in this case, the more you show you’re excited, the more excited you become. Suppression then can be seen as a downward spiral to levels of low satisfaction, also known as the snowball effect. Although biases in published articles are regularly avoided, sometimes an author will include their beliefs about the topic more than they intend to. Biases generally are not an in-your-face way of illustrating an author’s view but rather a hidden and underlying focus that not only shows the author’s preference but unknowingly slightly persuades a reader to agree with the writer.
One way of biasing toward one train of thought is to only state that one opinion that the author has and not the opposing view. Thus it can be seen that Gross is not biased toward suppression only being a negative social consequence through sentences like: “Compared to reappraisal, suppression leads individuals to share less of their positive and negative emotions, resulting in weakened social support, and even being less liked” (Gross, 2002).
Being an author of a mainly research based article, Gross makes it clear that there is evidence that not only are there other forms of emotion regulation but different forms of suppression as well. In opposition to using other types of emotion regulation to further support evidence of suppressions consequences, Carey continues to use only examples of poor regulation to back up his conclusions. By mentioning that useful emotions are beneficial in certain settings, he veers away from going in depth about reappraisal because of how it might tone down his argument of how suppression is the main way that emotion regulation goes awry.
Because Carey wrote this article in response to research and experiments about a scientific topic and not about social issues themselves, his bias is not a strong one or clearly apparent unless really evaluated as such. Largely due to less strict guidelines, popular press articles almost without fail are not just a write-up of facts but contain a viewpoint of some sort. This viewpoint not only shows the writers perspective but also generally allows the reader to decide for themselves what it is they choose to believe.
Whether in light of the facts or in common beliefs, we can be sure that without a doubt emotion regulation controls all of our social interactions sometimes without us even noticing. However, Carey states that “people may choose the emotions they feel far more often than they are aware – and those choices, too, can trip up social interactions” (Carey, 2010, para. 17). Emotions may clearly show our feelings but the correct way to do so remains quite imperfect.
With new studies like those discussed in Gross’s ending address to researchers there is still much to be learned about how we as humans can positively impact our own lives in how we regulate our emotions. If we can learn as developing youngsters how to affect our social habits we may very well see a decline in mental and social disorders in society. There are valuable strategies for different situations, the only trouble is deciding which one is right (Carey, 2010, para. 26). Mastering our own actions and portrayal of emotions will not ever reach perfection.
These actions and feelings are often dealt with unconsciously so it is impossible to completely control them yet if we do control all that we can the world may very well be a more accepting environment and impact our own and other’s interactions for the better. Such hopes are more than likely the motivation for each of these authors to learn and write about the subject. Carey and Gross alike wrote for the greater good of informing about emotion regulation but their two articles were also not alike in so many ways. The context in which each author writes is ever so different for whom they are writing.
More importantly though, the content the authors include paints a much bigger picture. Both articles focus on how poor emotion regulation has a huge consequence on our social lives. Their focuses differ however, because Carey focuses his article on how suppression is almost always a bad technique while Gross gives insight as to how there are different approaches of suppression and emotion regulation in general. To say the least, these two articles are comparatively alike in topic but contrast the divided views of the topic in whole, shedding new light on the future of emotion regulation.
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