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Emotional regulation and emotional development

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Abstract

Current neofunctionalist views of emotion underscore the biologically adaptive and psychologically constructive contributions of emotion to organized behavior, but little is known of the development of the emotional regulatory processes by which this is fostered. Emotional regulation refers to the extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions. This review provides a developmental outline of emotional regulation and its relation to emotional development throughout the life-span. The biological foundations of emotional self-regulation and individual differences in regulatory tendencies are summarized. Extrinsic influences on the early regulation of a child's emotion and their long-term significance are then discussed, including a parent's direct intervention strategies, selective reinforcement and modeling processes, affective induction, and the caregiver's ecological control of opportunity for heightened emotion and its management. Intrinsic contributors to the growth of emotional self-regulatory capacities include the emergence of language and cognitive skills, the child's growing emotional and self-understanding (and cognized strategies of emotional self-control), and the emergence of a “theory of personal emotion” in adolescence.

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Thompson, R.A. Emotional regulation and emotional development. Educ Psychol Rev 3, 269–307 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01319934

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