Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 306–315 | Cite as

Preferences for sadness when eliciting help: Instrumental motives in sadness regulation

Original Paper


This investigation tested whether people are more willing to experience and express sadness, the more useful they expect sadness to be. Building on assumptions about the function of sadness, we predicted that people would expect sadness to be more useful when eliciting help to prevent a loss (vs. not). In Study 1, we examined preferences for sadness and its expected usefulness when eliciting donations for the sake of preventing a loss (vs. not). In Study 2, participants expected to elicit help to prevent a loss (vs. attain a benefit). In both studies, participants expected sadness to be more useful and were more willing to experience and express sadness when eliciting help to prevent a loss (vs. other reasons). Furthermore, the more useful participants expected experiencing and expressing sadness to be, the more willing they were to experience and to express sadness, respectively. We discuss the implications for research on emotion regulation.


Helping Emotion regulation Emotions Sadness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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