Integrating social support into emotion regulation research
Speaker: Razia Sahi
As social creatures, our relationships with other people have tremendous downstream impacts on health and wellbeing. This is in part because social interactions can dramatically shape how we think and feel, influencing how we process and experience our emotions during life’s challenges. My research program uses behavioral experiments, neuroimaging, and linguistic methods to study “social emotion regulation” – or how we regulate each other’s emotions. In this talk, I first share my work demonstrating how social support impacts emotion regulation outcomes. Using a novel dyadic reappraisal paradigm, I demonstrate how regulating emotions with help from a friend is more effective than regulating alone. I then show that the effects of social emotion regulation linger to help people regulate emotions in the future without their friend present. I also present ongoing extensions of this line of work that examine the neurodevelopmental mechanisms facilitating social emotion regulation in adolescents and young adults. Next, I share research examining how people effectively communicate during social support interactions to facilitate emotion regulation outcomes. I show how variability in the social support strategies we use differentially impact social emotion regulation outcomes and how paralinguistic cues such as acoustic pitch can shape affective and relationship outcomes. I also describe ongoing work in which I assess how subtle linguistic cues (e.g., the use of psychologically “distanced” language) can impact others’ emotions. I conclude with future directions for this research program aimed at examining these processes across various levels of analysis (i.e., social emotion regulation in groups, across time, and across mechanisms). In all, this research builds on existing frameworks suggesting that emotion regulation is a highly social process with empirical data elaborating on how people influence each other’s emotional states. Through this work, I aim to offer insight into everyday socio-emotional behaviors that can ultimately help us improve social interactions and bolster wellbeing across the lifespan.