Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 740–749 | Cite as

Beliefs about emotion’s malleability influence state emotion regulation

  • Elizabeth T. KneelandEmail author
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
  • John F. Dovidio
  • June Gruber
Original Paper


The current study examined how manipulating information about whether emotions are fixed or malleable influences the extent to which individuals engage in different emotion regulation strategies. We hypothesized that fixed, compared to malleable, emotion beliefs would produce less effort invested in emotion regulation. Participants were randomly assigned to experimental conditions emphasizing that emotions are malleable or fixed, and then completed an autobiographical negative emotion induction. Participants reported seven different emotion regulation strategies they used during the recall task. Participants in the fixed emotion condition, compared to those in the malleable emotion condition, reported engaging significantly less in self-blame and perspective-taking. They engaged somewhat, but not significantly, less in all of the other strategies, except acceptance. These results suggest that emotion malleability beliefs can be experimentally manipulated and systematically influence subsequent emotion regulatory behavior. Implications for affective science and mental health are discussed.


Emotion regulation Emotion beliefs Negative emotions Psychopathology 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11031_2016_9566_MOESM1_ESM.docx (154 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 154 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth T. Kneeland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
    • 1
  • John F. Dovidio
    • 1
  • June Gruber
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

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