Individuals vary widely in how they think and feel about emotions. Do they believe that they will lose control when they experience anger? Do they value contentment over joy? Do they dismiss their emotions as roadblocks that can lead them astray? It is well-established scientifically that there is a wider range of points of view people have toward emotion, what we will call emotion perspectives. As reviewed below, there are many different forms of emotion perspectives described in the literature, including but not limited to beliefs, values, and attitudes about emotion. These emotion perspectives hold important implications for psychological and social health. For example, emotion controllability beliefs and emotion mindsets are linked to emotion dysregulation, higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer functioning in social relationships, and lower levels of psychological health (De Castella et al., 2018; Edwards & Wupperman, 2019; Ford & Gross, 2019; Kisley et al., 2019; Kneeland et al., 2016a, 2016b, 2016c; Tamir et al., 2007). Emotion perspectives can also have impacts beyond the individual who holds them. For example, one’s belief concerning the usefulness and relevance of emotion in daily life can influence their approach to parenting (Halberstadt et al., 2013), teaching (Nalipay et al., 2021), and even the legal decisions reached by judges who wield substantial power (e.g., supreme court justices: Maroney, 2021). Although many of the relevant constructs overlap or are functionally linked, researchers who study specific sub-types of emotion perspectives rarely connect concepts and findings from adjacent literatures. This lack of cohesion is often due to differences in terminology or a dearth of integration across sub-disciplines of psychology (e.g., social psychology vs. clinical psychology). One of the goals of the current special issue is to acknowledge and clarify that different terms can refer to the same or highly overlapping constructs. We hope an overarching framework of emotion perspectives may help to address this issue and foster greater communication and collaboration.

It is also instructive to note what does not fall into the category of emotion perspectives. For example, individuals’ abilities or tendencies as they relate to experience, expression, or regulation of emotion would not be considered emotion perspectives according to the definition advanced here. For example, emotion perspectives do not encapsulate emotion regulation ability or one’s perceived emotion regulation self-efficacy (Veilleux et al., 2015; 2021a). Self-efficacy refers to a construct that centers on perceptions of one’s ability to cope with challenge, which can include an assessment of one’s own ability and resources (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, we consider this construct to be distinct from the perception about one’s emotions, specifically, such as believing that one’s own emotions can be controlled. Additionally, emotion perspectives would not be considered to include distress tolerance, defined as one’s ability to tolerate negative emotional states (Simons & Gaher, 2005). Emotion research has also focused on individuals’ ability to understand their own emotional experiences, including identifying the type and source of their emotions—also called emotion clarity (Boden & Berenbaum, 2011; Boden et al., 2013). Emotion clarity falls under the broader category of alexithymia, which refers to difficulty sensing and identifying one’s emotions (Bagby, Parker, & Taylor, 1994; Boden et al., 2013). While these constructs are certainly associated with emotion perspective, we consider them to be distinct. But additional research aimed at examining and better describing the relationships and mechanisms tying emotion perspective to such abilities and tendencies will be important.

The goal of this paper and associated special issue of Motivation & Emotion is to provide a common language and broader framework the field can use to streamline and support this growing, exciting area of research on emotion perspectives. Our hope is that this collection of research papers will serve as a call to action and a demonstration that these previously separate areas of research can speak to each other and serve as building blocks to move this research area forward. Additionally, readers of the special issue will encounter converging evidence that there is a wide diversity of emotion perspectives, and further that these perspectives have broad and far-ranging impacts and correlates. In conclusion, research on emotion perspectives cuts across major disciplines of psychology, such as clinical, social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. As such, an integrated approach to this research area is especially important.

The next section of this paper will focus on key constructs in this area of emotion perspectives that have garnered the most theoretical and empirical attention to date. These include: emotion mindsets, lay theories, beliefs, attitudes, values, perceptions, schemas and others. We propose that these constructs be considered under the umbrella of “emotion perspectives.” Some of these constructs substantially overlap, and the goal of the short review below is to clarify definitions and frameworks in order to challenge the past partition of these constructs into separate literatures, while highlighting where and how these constructs diverge. In the subsequent section, we describe cross-cutting research directions that are addressed by the papers included in this special issue. We also highlight opportunities for future research throughout.

Brief review of emotion perspectives

Lay theories of emotion refers to a broad class of constructs, and overlaps with emotion mindsets and emotion beliefs (discussed below). Tamir et al. (2007) drew heavily from Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets to define the concept of implicit theories of emotion, though without using the term “mindset.” They published a now commonly used measure of implicit theories of emotion that is used to distinguish between entity theorists, lay people who believe that emotions are relatively fixed, and incremental theorists, those who believe that emotions are malleable. The term “implicit” was intended to convey the idea that such lay theories correspond to beliefs about emotion that are not explicitly held, yet impact one’s behaviors including regulation of emotion. Nevertheless, the published measure involves explicit self-report. This highlights the interesting and important possibility that lay people may maintain emotion perspectives that are not currently measurable with the tools researchers in this area currently utilize, which depend predominantly on explicit accessibility.

Other lay theories of emotion have also been investigated. For example, Karnaze and Levine (2018) studied the difference between “help” and “hinder” theories of emotion. Whereas the former corresponds to people’s belief regarding the usefulness and importance of emotion, the latter relates to the extent to which emotion is a hindrance to one’s life. As separable factors, these two viewpoints are not simply opposites ends of a single spectrum (Karnaze & Levine, 2020). Lay theories of emotion have also been described as people’s “hypotheses” about the attributes of emotions including their power, intensity, significance, and potential for interfering with cognitive function (Ben-Artzi & Mikulincer, 1996). Another lay theory that has been described relates to beliefs concerning the source of emotion, specifically whether it arises within a single individual as opposed to arising from the interaction between a collection of individuals (Uchida et al., 2009). For the purpose of the present review, it is worth noting that all of these lay theories of emotion, as diverse as their specific subjects, could nevertheless be included under the broader perspective of “emotion beliefs,” which is considered below.

Emotion mindsets

One important area of research on emotion perspectives that overlaps with implicit theories of emotion involves mindsets about emotion—defined as beliefs about the changeability or fixedness of emotion. Emotion mindset research draws directly from Carol Dweck and others’ work defining the influential role of mindsets individuals have about intelligence to outcomes such as how students cope with a setback, effort expended at overcoming a challenge, and feelings of hopelessness (Blackwell et al., 2007; Dweck, 2000; Hong et al., 1999). Emotion mindsets have been linked to a range of outcomes including clinical symptoms, emotional experiences, and motivation for psychological treatment (Burnette, Knouse et al., 2020; Schroder, 2021). While mindset research originated in social and personality psychology (Tamir et al., 2007), mindsets and mindsets of emotion, specifically, have been increasingly studied in the domain of clinical psychology (Kneeland et al., 2016a, 2016b, 2016c; Schleider et al., 2015). Emotion mindsets and mindsets about specific emotions in the clinical domain, like anxiety, have been linked to mental health outcomes including depression, substance use, preference for certain types of treatment, such as medication versus psychotherapy, and treatment outcomes (Schroder et al., 2017, 2019). As such, there has been a call for a more targeted and comprehensive integration of emotion mindsets with clinical intervention (see Schroder, 2021 for review). It is important to note that recent empirical work has demonstrated statistically that different emotion mindsets relate to one “general mindset” factor (Hughes, 2015; Lewis et al., 2021; Schroder et al., 2016). This research demonstrates that it could be useful to clarify the distinct role of specific emotion mindsets to relevant social and clinical outcomes, yet these different emotion mindsets could ultimately reflect a more general mindset construct.

Emotion beliefs

Emotion beliefs overlap conceptually with emotion mindsets as well as lay and implicit theories. Similar to emotion mindsets, some emotion belief research draws heavily from Carol Dweck’s work on incremental or fixed views of a construct that reflect how changeable and controllable an individual views a particular attribute, such as intelligence or emotion. One type of emotion belief that has garnered the most theoretical and empirical attention are beliefs about the degree to which emotions can change and be controlled—sometimes called emotion malleability or controllability beliefs (Becerra et al., 2020; Ford & Gross, 2019; Kneeland et al., 2016a, 2016b, 2016c). Experimental work has clarified that emotion malleability beliefs can causally influence individuals to engage in more active emotion regulation and lead to better emotional recovery (Kneeland & Simpson, 2022; Kneeland et al., 2016a, 2016b). Cross-sectional and longitudinal work also confirms that more changeable views of emotion predict engagement in emotion regulation strategies, such as avoidance and cognitive reappraisal (De Castella et al., 2013, 2018; Kneeland et al., 2020). Additionally, individuals can hold differing beliefs about emotions, generally, compared to their own emotions (De Castella et al., 2013). Beliefs about personal emotions possess stronger ties to emotional well-being, emotional avoidance, and specific emotion regulation strategies (De Castella et al., 2013, 2018). These results are important because theoretical and longitudinal work confirm that the degree to which individuals employ certain emotion regulation strategies relate to and predict different clinical symptoms, such as depression and anxiety (Aldao et al., 2010). For example, initial work in clinical populations also finds that individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder have more fixed views of emotion and anxiety compared to healthy individuals (De Castella et al., 2014a). Additionally, individuals engaged in a clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) showed more of a change to more malleable views of emotion pre- to post-treatment compared to individuals in the control condition (De Castella et al., 2014b). Individuals also vary in how controllable they view specific discrete emotions, such as sadness compared to irritation (Gutentag et al., 2023).

Emotion beliefs can encapsulate broader beliefs about emotions than just their changeability or controllability. For example, individuals can hold varying beliefs about how long emotions will last and the uniqueness of their own emotions (Veilleux et al., 2021a, 2021b). Believing emotions last longer, in addition to believing that emotions are unique to the individual, predicted higher levels of psychological distress (Veilleux et al., 2021a, 2021b). Individuals can also hold differing beliefs about the degree to which they view emotions as useful, and this can vary based on whether the emotion is positive versus negatively valenced (Becerra et al., 2020; Tornquist & Miles, 2019, 2022). Other emotion beliefs that have been investigated include whether emotions are contagious (Manser et al., 2012), and the extent to which emotions constitute responses to external events as opposed to cognitive appraisals of those events (Turner et al, 2021). Emotion beliefs can also relate to important outcomes outside of the clinical domain; for example, the mindsets teachers have about their own emotions relate to their level of engagement in teaching (Nalipay et al., 2021). In the developmental domain, parents’ emotion beliefs about emotion, such as whether emotions are valuable or dangerous, relate to how they respond to the child’s expression of emotion, and how the child develops the skills of identifying emotion and emotion regulation (Castro, Halberstadt, et al., 2016; Halberstadt et al., 2013; Dunsmore et al., 2009; Halberstadt et al., 2008). In sum, emotion beliefs overlap conceptually with emotion mindsets and lay theories, yet can also encapsulate a broader range of views of emotion. Overall, these types of emotion perspectives possess critical implications for psychological and social health. Future research directions could adopt a more granular approach to identify the impact of holding beliefs about specific emotions (e.g., happiness versus fear; also see Gutentag et al., 2023, discussed below) and different types of beliefs. Other important future directions include the study of how emotion beliefs are formed, what may lead them to change, and are all beliefs available for self-report, or are some only held implicitly without an individual’s explicit awareness? In addition, there is limited research that examines the impact of a range of emotion beliefs (utility, controllability), mindsets, and lay theories simultaneously. A study that assesses a range of emotion perspectives within the same sample would help clarify the degree of overlap and differentiation between these related constructs.

Emotion attitudes

Whereas mindsets, theories, and beliefs correspond to the position one takes concerning the importance, usefulness, or controllability of emotion, attitudes toward emotion are a different type of perspective that corresponds to one’s subjective evaluations (Harmon-Jones et al., 2011). For example, individuals endorse different degrees of liking or disliking the experience of certain emotions such as fear, disgust, sadness, and joy. Such attitudes predict which emotions one will attempt to regulate. For example, an individual who dislikes the experience of anger is more likely to avoid anger-provoking situations (Harmon-Jones et al., 2011). Beyond subjective liking or disliking, attitudes toward emotion have been argued to include a cognitive component corresponding to what people “think” about discrete emotions including dimensions such as worthless vs. valuable, foolish vs. wise, and bad vs. good (Netzer et al., 2018). Described as “evaluations,” these cognitive dimensions strongly overlap with lay theory and emotion belief constructs described above, although they have historically been considered as attitudes, and thus separate from such emotion perspectives. Ford and Gross (2019) propose that evaluating emotions as good or bad represents a dimension of emotion beliefs in their model that distinguishes between “malleability” and “utility” emotion beliefs. Dweck (2017) similarly considers evaluations of constructs as “good” or “bad” a part of her mindset system. Therefore, emotion attitudes can also conceptually overlap with other constructs that fall under the umbrella of emotion perspectives. This may be an unnecessary terminological boundary that will tend to inhibit cooperative progress across research areas.

Affect valuation

Affect valuation goes beyond simply liking or disliking an emotional experience and corresponds instead to how one wants to feel, referred to as “ideal affect” (Tsai et al., 2006). Culture has been found to influence ideal affect more strongly than one’s actual emotional experiences, and this perspective leads to predictable behaviors including importantly attempts to experience more highly valued affective states. For example, those from individualist cultures often seek experiences and situations that lead to high arousal positive affective states, whereas those from interdependent cultures are more likely to engage in calming, soothing activities and situations; each group in alignment with their predominant ideal affect (reviewed by Tsai, 2017). Such differences are often prescriptive as well, reflected by differences between what emotions Asian- and European-Americans state “should” be expressed, more formally described as emotion control values (Mauss et al., 2010). Beyond cultural differences, future research into the relationship between other individual differences and emotion values may also be informative.

Other emotion perspectives

The influence of culture on emotion perspective has been studied through the lens of several other constructs. The perceived utility of emotion represents the extent to which one considers an emotion to be useful. European Americans tend to endorse greater perceived utility for self-focused emotions, such as pride, compared to Asian Americans who often rate other-focused emotions like appreciation as being of greater utility (Chow & Berenbaum, 2012). Although perceived utility of emotion has been shown to be distinct from ideal affect, it potentially overlaps with other emotion perspectives described above including especially beliefs about emotion usefulness. Fear of happiness (a.k.a. aversion to happiness) is another construct that demonstrates cultural variation, but also appears to overlap with other emotion perspectives reviewed here. Contrary to the label, this is conceptualized as a “belief” that happiness, when experienced, tends to lead to negative outcomes (Joshanloo, 2013). Despite seeming quite alien to individuals from European and American cultures, this perspective is not uncommon within some Asian cultures (Joshanloo, 2019). Going forward, we hope researchers who have historically studied only western populations will consider and refer to literature demonstrating cultural differences in order to avoid over-generalizing the potential applicability of their findings. Relatedly, the fear of happiness could also be observed in certain clinical samples; for example, individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) fear positive emotion states because of the potential of the contrast if an event occurs that provokes a negative emotion (Newman & LLera, 2011). Therefore, there could also be contexts in the clinical domain in which individuals fear positive emotions and this represents another interesting avenue for future research.

The brief review above is intended to demonstrate the tremendous diversity of perspectives that lay people hold about emotion, and to reinforce the claim that such perspectives are consequential. An exhaustive review is beyond the scope of this paper which serves primarily to introduce this special issue of Motivation & Emotion. But we believe the broad concept of lay perspectives can serve as a useful lens through which to examine other ideas in the literature. For example, emotion schema, a construct that has been particularly useful for the study of psychopathology, importantly includes one’s “conceptualization” of emotion and emotional responding (Edwards & Wupperman, 2019; Leahy, 2002). Emotion schema also appear to be conceptually and empirically distinct from emotion beliefs (Veilleux et al., 2021a, 2021b). Specifically, emotion schema refer to a broader construct under which lie emotion beliefs as well as attributes related to responses to emotions, such as the degree to which the individual believes that understand their own emotions. Additionally, “meta-cognitions about emotion” (Bartsch et al., 2008) and “meta-emotional knowledge” (Norman & Furnes, 2016) have both been described in terms that are substantively similar to emotion beliefs, reviewed above. This last point serves to highlight one of our goals in editing this special issue: by bringing together researchers who are working on different emotion perspectives, we hope that connections and previously hidden commonalities will be uncovered that may lead to opportunities for collaboration and cross-pollination between research areas.

Overview of papers and research themes included in the special issue

The papers included in this special issue each relate to different emotion perspectives and touch on several key themes that are highlighted below. Future directions will also be discussed as they relate to the key themes in emotion perspective research. Rather than categorizing studies based on the specific emotion perspective investigated, we decided instead to highlight research themes that cut across historically separate literatures such as attitudes, theories, beliefs, schemas, and so on. Further, the reader may note that each paper is discussed in the context of more than one overarching theme, which speaks to the cross-disciplinary nature and potential for broad impact of research on emotion perspectives.

Unsurprisingly, emotion perspectives vary across individuals, and these differences relate to many other psychological variables. In a multi-study investigation included this special issue, Chow and colleagues demonstrated that lay people exhibit broad agreement in their perspectives concerning whether particular discrete emotions are self-serving (e.g., anger) or other-serving (e.g., guilt). However, the frequency of experiences for these different classes of emotions varied across individuals in a manner that correlated with interpersonally relevant personality traits. For example, whereas the report of more self-serving positive emotions was associated with greater dominance, more frequent other-serving negative emotions was associated with less patience (Chow et al., 2023). Emotion schemas, cognitive frameworks about emotion function and value, vary along with measures related to personality disorders (Edwards et al., 2023). However, as shown by Edwards and colleagues in a study included in this issue, the direction of the relationship, from “adaptive” to “maladaptive” schemas, depends upon the specific disorder investigated. Individual differences in relationship-oriented traits also varies with emotion perspective (Szymaniak et al., 2023). For example, one’s attitude toward anger, specifically liking the experience of anger, was found to be associated with greater attachment insecurity by Szymaniak and co-authors. Given that personality and attachment style develop early, one may hypothesize that the direction of causation for the associations summarized above goes from personality traits and attachment insecurity to emotion perspectives, although we are not aware of a direct test of this idea. Additionally, a future area of research could clarify how individual differences in emotional intensity and individual histories of intense personal emotional experiences (such as trauma) could contribute to the development of emotion perspectives. For example, more intense emotional experiences that the individual finds difficult to control could lead to stronger emotion perspectives that emotions cannot be changed or are harmful. More broadly, what are the causative factors that contribute to the formation of one’s perspective on emotion? We hope future studies will investigate these questions more directly.

Based on several studies published in this special issue, one’s perspective on emotion is related to their perspective on the world more broadly. Political ideology varies with both beliefs and attitudes about emotion. Initial work by Hoyt and colleagues found that differences in social dominance orientation (SDO), which refers to the degree to which individuals endorse norms and practices that maintain the existing societal hierarchy, related to beliefs about intelligence and the efficacy of a growth mindset manipulation (Hoyt et al., 2018). Choi et al. (2023) found that more liberal participants endorsed stronger beliefs concerning the “functionality” of emotion. On the other side of the aisle, Szymaniak et al. (2023) found that conservative individuals report more positive attitudes toward anger. These authors also found that attitudes toward anger were related to another psychological variable with important societal impacts, the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. More specifically, a negative attitude toward anger (i.e., disliking the experience of anger) was associated with a reduced likelihood of believing in conspiracy theories, including those related to COVID-19. Also relating to the theme of one’s worldview, Joshanloo (2023) found that belief in black magic and karma predicts a viewpoint that experiencing or expressing happiness can lead to negative consequences. The directionality of causation for these effects, if indeed there is a causative link, seems less intuitively obvious than those mentioned above for found associations between personality or attachment and one’s emotion perspective. Is it possible that one’s perspective on emotion could impact their political viewpoint and broader worldview? Such questions await additional research.

Laypeople’s perspectives on emotion are often quite nuanced, as increasingly demonstrated by research in this area. For example, although most research on controllability beliefs to date has focused on “emotion” as a unified class of phenomena, more recent work has shown that people often maintain different beliefs depending on the valence of emotions (i.e., positive vs. negative emotion classes; Becerra et al., 2020). Digging deeper, a study included in this special issue by Gutentag and colleagues demonstrated that controllability beliefs can also vary across discrete emotions. Beliefs about the controllability of disgust, anger, and sadness were found to be psychometrically distinct, and these separable beliefs were related to one’s experience of each emotion (Gutentag et al., 2023). Additional evidence for meaningfully nuanced emotion beliefs is provided Yu and co-authors who found that laypeople rated the utility of expressing gratitude in contextually appropriate social situations to be greater than that of expressing pride, anger, and embarrassment in situations that called for each of those emotions. In other words, laypeople consider the expression of some emotions to be more beneficial than others, even when specific social situations are accounted for (Yu et al., 2023). Other contextual variables have been shown to influence one’s beliefs about emotion. A study featured in this special issue by Veilleux et al. (2023) showed that one’s beliefs about emotions can change over the course of a day depending upon numerous factors including, but not limited to, one’s current mood, their level of tiredness, and whether they have recently consumed psychoactive substances such as caffeine or alcohol. We anticipate and hope that research in this area will continue to uncover increasingly fine-grained descriptions of laypeople’s perspectives on emotion, as well as their causes and consequences.

Emotion perspectives, from beliefs to preferences, reflect cultural influences as well (reviewed by Ford & Gross, 2019; Tsai, 2017). Past work by Tamir et al. (2016) clarified that cultural values can shape the emotions individuals want to feel. For example, individuals in the United States desired “opening” emotions such as curiosity and excitement more than emotions like calm or relief, while the opposite pattern was observed in individuals in Ghana. In the present issue, Joshanloo found that levels of aversion to happiness differ between countries, where the Asian countries studied showed significantly higher levels of endorsement compared to specific countries in Europe and North America (Joshanloo, 2023). Another study, one by Koh et al., showed cultural effects for a novel emotion perspective, ease of experiencing emotions, which is the perception one holds with regard to their ability to intentionally experience a given emotion. Whereas American participants endorsed greater ease for gratitude and compassion, Japanese participants perceived calm, anxious, and angry as easier to experience (Koh et al., 2023). However, it is important to note that these effects depended upon the situational context, providing additional evidence for the nuanced nature of emotion perspectives mentioned above. Considering studies of cultural variables both here and from past literature, we feel that researchers who collect data from Western samples must take care to avoid making sweeping generalizations about emotion perspectives without at least including a caveat regarding potential cultural variation. Relatedly, we encourage researchers to consider including samples from multiple cultures in their research, or at least incorporating ideas and findings from research conducted in non-Western samples into their theorizing and study conceptualizations. For example, in the current issue, Li and colleagues developed an instrument for measuring the lay perspective implicit theories of shame which is inclusive of, and responsive to both Eastern and Western points of view.

Another theme that emerges in this special issue centers on the relationship of emotion perspectives to psychological health and disorder. This theme is of particular interest to clinical psychology, yet also holds broader implications for general emotional health and well-being that cut across sub-disciplines in psychology. Several studies in this special issue define how emotions perspectives might function to support or hinder mental health. Initial work has described how emotion beliefs function among individuals currently experiencing mental illness. For example, more changeable anxiety mindsets were associated with decreased psychological distress and fewer anxiety symptoms among individuals undergoing intensive psychiatric treatment (Schroder et al., 2019). Emotion malleability beliefs have also been found to predict daily negative affect and emotion regulation among individuals with current depressive symptoms (Kneeland et al., 2020). In the current special issue, Edwards and colleagues clarify the role of emotion schemas among individuals currently seeking outpatient psychiatric treatment (Edwards et al., 2023). Results from this study teased apart which types of emotion schemas cut across personality disorder symptoms presentation. For example, a general maladaptive emotion schema appeared to be transdiagnostic across most personality disorders. Results from this study also showed that certain emotion schemas are specific to particular personality disorder symptom profiles. For example, individuals with borderline or paranoid personality disorders had higher endorsement of emotion schemas blaming others for emotional distress. This paper clarifies patterns of emotion schemas across 10 personality disorders, further extending the study of emotion perspectives into the clinical domain. Another paper included in this special issue by Luong and colleagues also describes a relationship between emotion perspectives and psychological health (Luong et al., 2023). In this paper, the authors focus on negative affect valuation (NAV), defined as how desirable individuals view specific negative affective states, and how differences in NAV relate to mental health. Findings show that NAV moderated the relationship between negative affect and mental health outcomes, such as depressive symptoms and burnout.

Future directions in this area could focus on continuing to clarify the role of a range of emotion perspectives, such as emotion beliefs, schemas, and values in a broader array of psychological disorders. For example, among individuals diagnosed with depression, believing that emotions in general can change, but that one’s own emotions are more fixed could maintain depressive symptoms. It also could be that in certain contexts, such as within the context of mood disorders, believing that emotions should be changeable, but struggling to do so, might be more harmful rather than helpful. In addition, future empirical work could clarify potential mediators and moderators in the relationships between emotion perspectives and clinical outcomes. Initial work in this domain has clarified that differences in emotion regulation, such as the use of cognitive reappraisal or expressive suppression, mediated the relationship between emotion perspectives and mental health, including depressive, anxiety, and eating disorder symptoms (Deplancke et al., 2022; Vuillier et al., 2021). Additionally, work by Schroder and others describe how anxiety mindsets related to clinical symptoms, such as substance use, depression, and non-suicidal self-injury, and buffered the effect of stressful life events on certain symptoms (Schroder et al., 2017). In terms of treatment, future work could continue the investigation of how emotion perspectives change during treatment and serve as moderators or mediators of treatment success. For example, one investigation found that Emotion Focused Therapy for binge eating disorder led to significant changes in emotion beliefs, such as the beliefs that emotions are overwhelming and uncontrollable (Glisenti, Strodl, & King, 2022). Future research could also examine how emotion perspectives relate to which clients benefit the most from certain psychological treatments and engage in treatment. We echo the call from others (e.g., Schroder, 2021) that mindsets and other emotion perspectives can provide insights into the development, maintenance, and treatment of psychological disorders. Clarifying the role of emotion perspectives in conceptualizations of psychiatric disorders and distress can illuminate targets for treatment, serve as a guide to clinicians, and be used to enhance treatment motivation and efficacy.

A robust area of research focuses on the role of emotion perspectives on individuals’ emotional experiences, emotion expression, and engagement in emotion regulation. In terms of how emotion perspectives relate to emotional experiences, extant work has tied more malleable emotion beliefs and stronger growth anxiety mindsets to decreased negative affect, greater emotional well-being, and quicker recovery from a negative emotion induction (De Castella et al., 2014a; Kneeland & Simpson, 2022; Schroder et al., 2019; Tamir et al., 2007). Other research examining emotion perspectives centered on beliefs found that stronger beliefs that emotions were “bad” was associated with a greater negative emotional response to a stressor and greater symptoms of depression and anxiety (Karnaze & Levine, 2018). Correlational, experimental, and longitudinal work has also clarified that emotion perspectives relate to and influence how individuals regulate their emotions. More malleable emotion beliefs and emotion mindsets were associated with the greater use of cognitive reappraisal in both adults and youths (Ford et al., 2018; Karnaze & Levine, 2018; Kneeland & Simpson, 2022; Tamir et al., 2007). Individuals with more changeable emotion beliefs also were more willing to confront negative affect, rather than engage in avoidance (Kappes & Schikowski, 2013).

In the current special issue, three studies extend previous research to define how a range of emotion perspectives tie to and influence individuals’ emotion experiences. First, Koh and colleagues examined how individuals vary in the degree to which they perceive the ease with which they can intentionally experience emotions (Koh et al., 2023). Variations in perceived and actual “ease of experience” relate differently to emotional experiences depending on the context and emotion regulation goal. Gutentag and colleagues focused on how differences in beliefs about the controllability of specific emotions were related differentially to distinct emotional experiences as individuals naturalistically experienced emotions in their daily lives (Gutentag et al., 2023). Szymaniak et al. (2023) focused on a specific type of emotion perspective—attitudes toward anger—and found that more positive attitudes of anger related to outcomes such as more frequent anger reactions. Relatedly, one study in the current special issue showed how emotion perspectives were also associated with emotional expression. Specifically, Yu and Chang demonstrated that variation in the belief that expressing emotion is useful predicted how satisfied people were with a social interaction when they either did or did not express emotion (Yu & Chang, 2023).

Future research tying emotion perspectives to emotion experiences could continue to broaden the contexts in which these relationships are described. For example, does ease of emotion relate most strongly to emotional experiences at higher levels of emotion intensity? Do individuals’ beliefs about the controllability of emotion vary based on factors like intensity and whether the emotion has a clear trigger? Can inducing a more negative attitude toward anger causally reduce interpersonal conflict and promote cooperation?

Building on past emotion perspective research, four studies in the current special issue examined how emotion perspectives, such as emotion beliefs, related to the regulation of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. Eldesouky and English (2023) presented findings focused on motives and beliefs regarding the use of expressive suppression to manage unwanted emotions. Specifically, they found that stronger motives to appear warm, compared to competent, led to decreased use of expressive suppression in the lab. In a daily diary study within the same paper, utility beliefs about suppression did not relate to the reported use of suppression. This suggests that the strength of the relationship between emotion motives and beliefs and emotion regulation can vary by context. Choi and colleagues examined factors, such as political orientation, that related to beliefs about the functionality of emotion and how such beliefs impact a range of outcomes, including emotion regulation. Findings from this study showed that, overall, having a strong belief that emotion serves an important function was related to less expressive suppression and more cognitive reappraisal. Veilleux et al. provided a more granular view of the impact of emotion perspectives on daily emotion regulation (Veilleux et al., 2023). Their investigation focused on variation in emotion beliefs across contexts and across time. Results showed that all beliefs except those that emotions would last forever were impacted by at least one contextual factor, such as a recent invalidating experience. Lastly, changes in emotion beliefs on a within-subject level mapped onto momentary changes in emotion regulation. Smith et al. (2023) extended research tying emotion perspectives to emotion regulation into a social domain. They found that when individuals held stronger beliefs that emotions were controllable were more likely to use invalidating forms of interpersonal emotion regulation, such as minimizing the significance of the other individual’s stressful event.

Future directions in this area could continue to examine the impact of emotion perspectives on emotion regulation in a broader range of emotional and social contexts. For example, are there times in which having a more fixed or uncontrollable perspective of emotion might incline individuals to not engage in emotion regulation efforts, or perhaps this type of emotion perspective could incline individuals to use an emotion regulation strategy, like acceptance, that does not focus on actively changing an emotional experience (Hayes, 2004; Naragaon-Gainey et al., 2017). Additionally, experimental research could continue to clarify the causal influence of specific emotion perspectives, such as thinking an emotion is helpful, good, or controllable, on emotion experience, expression, and regulation.

One growing and exciting area of emotion perspectives research involves the emotion perspectives that individuals have of others’ emotions. Except for research on parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about children’s emotions (e.g., Hagan et al., 2020; Halberstadt et al., 2013), this is a relatively understudied area of emotion perspectives research, notably with regard to beliefs concerning emotion malleability/controllability which is otherwise a robust area of study. In the current special issue, Smith and colleagues present research that addresses these gaps in the literature to examine if there is a potential cost to holding stronger beliefs in the controllability of emotion, and specifically controllability beliefs about others’ emotions (Smith et al., 2023). Across two studies, the authors found that individuals who held stronger beliefs that an individual with depression’s emotions were controllable reported less supportive responses to this individual’s distress, more avoidance, and less positive support. Future research in this domain could integrate clinical and affective science to increase our understanding of the contexts in which more controllable views of emotion might be harmful. For example, perhaps believing that others’ emotions or emotions in general are significantly more controllable that one’s own emotions could exacerbate emotional distress in conditions like depression. Experimental studies focusing on promoting a more controllable view of others’ emotions could define whether the relationship is causal between more controllable emotion beliefs and poorer support of others when they are experiencing emotional distress.

Additional future directions for research could focus on the etiology of emotion perspectives from a developmental perspective. For example, it could be that early experiences in which parental figures or other early childhood figures invalidate one’s own emotion responses then set the stage for psychopathology in adulthood. Indeed, Marsha Linehan’s biosocial model emphasizes that early invalidating emotional experiences provide the diathesis for later psychological disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (Crowell et al., 2009). Research on emotion socialization and emotion coaching of children, which is strongly influenced by parents’ “meta-emotion philosophy,” serves as an additional example (e.g., Schwartz et al., 2018; reviewed by Katz et al., 2012) Understanding how emotion perspectives develop including perspectives regarding emotional control represents a critical avenue for future research. In sum, the examination of the emotion perspectives about others’ emotions and when holding beliefs that emotions are controllable might not be beneficial represent an important area of future research.

A final theme in the current special issue centers on advancing how emotion perspectives are measured. Extant work assessing emotion perspectives, such as emotion beliefs or emotion mindsets, relies on the use of self-report measures that assess trait-level emotion perspectives. Given the limitations of trait self-report measures, it remains an open question how to achieve a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of individuals’ emotion perspectives. Relatedly, emotion perspectives could be assessed in alternate ways and also measured as individuals naturalistically navigate their daily lives. Developing and applying a more diverse range of methods to assess emotion perspectives represents a theme in this special issue and an important area for future research.

Five studies included in this special issue address a gap in the literature that centers on how to adopt a more granular measurement of emotion perspectives. These studies expand the scope of how emotion perspectives are measured by using experience sampling methods. Two studies included in this special issue adopt a daily diary approach to assess emotion perspectives. Gutentag and colleagues adopted a daily diary study to examine how beliefs about the controllability of sadness and irritation predicted distinct emotions that individuals experienced in daily life (Gutentag et al., 2023). Another study by Chow et al. (2023) also used a daily diary approach to provide a more fine-grained assessment of emotion perspectives on a day-to-day level. They found that experiencing self-serving versus other-serving emotions related to the daily goals that individuals pursued. Another series of studies take an even more granular approach by using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to assess a range of emotion perspectives. Veilleux and colleagues used EMA to clarify how fluctuations in emotion beliefs influence changes in daily emotion regulation strategy use. A study conducted by Eldesouky and English also utilized EMA to define how day level changes in motives relate to the daily use of suppression and cognitive reappraisal. Finally, Luong and colleagues used EMA approach to focus on how nuanced changes in the degree to which individuals value experiencing negative affect relate to emotional outcomes such as depressive symptoms and burnout. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that emotion perspectives can be assessed with measures other than trait self-report questionnaires and this represents an important area of future research.

A second gap in the assessment of emotion perspectives is that most measures assess people’s views about emotion on a general level. For example, the Implicit Theories of Emotion Scale assesses the degree to which individuals believe that emotions, in general, can change or be controlled (Tamir et al., 2007). Two articles included in this special issue focus on emotion perspectives of specific emotion states to clarify how emotion perspectives about particular emotions can lead to different psychological and emotional health outcomes. The article by Gutentag and colleagues (described above) examined the impact of the beliefs that individuals hold about the controllability of specific discrete negative emotions. They found that individuals can hold distinct beliefs about the controllability of the emotions sadness, anger, and disgust. A second study included in this special issue by Li and colleagues also touches on this theme of assessing emotion perspectives about a specific emotion by focusing on emotion perspectives of shame. In this study, the researchers developed and validated a novel scale that measures the degree to which individuals view shame as debilitating or enhancing. These two facets of shame beliefs relate differently to emotion-related outcomes, such as suppression and reappraisal.

Future work in the domain of measurement of emotion perspectives should continue to expand and increasingly adopt a fine-grained approach, using methodologies such as daily diary and EMA approaches. These studies would allow for the examination of whether individuals differ in their emotion perspectives across emotion valence, level of emotional arousal, specific emotions, or emotions of others. Future directions could also examine implicit measures to assess emotion perspectives, including implicit theories of emotion. For example, an Implicit Association Test (IAT) called the Emotion Regulation IAT (ER-IAT) assesses the degree to which individuals believe that emotions should be controlled or expressed (Mauss et al., 2006). It remains an open empirical question how implicitly held emotion theories and other perspectives relate to explicit endorsements. For example, are implicit emotion theories truly held on an implicit level, despite the Implicit Theories of Emotion Scale being a self-report (explicit) measure (Tamir et al., 2007). The field will benefit from the development of methods which can assess emotion theories at implicit levels of consciousness, such as through using an Implicit Association Test (IAT) of emotion perspectives (see below). A future IAT or alternative method that measures implicitly held emotion perspectives could assess a range of viewpoints, such as whether specific emotions are good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, or changeable or fixed.


There are a multitude of different perspectives that people adopt towards their own emotions, towards the emotions of others, and towards emotions more broadly as a whole. Further, evidence continues to mount that these perspectives, which include but are not limited to beliefs, perceptions, mindsets, theories, attitudes, values, and schemas, reflect and contribute to the manner in which one engages with their emotions. This engagement, or lack thereof, carries important consequences and impacts. The articles which follow in this special issue of Motivation & Emotion represent a logical extension of past research in these areas, but also represent a number of new and highly innovative research directions on emotion perspectives. Important and exciting suggestions for further research are also offered throughout. We hope the reader who is new to this area becomes inspired by these articles to learn more about and actively engage in the study of emotion perspectives. For the researcher who has been working in one of these areas already, we hope you find unexpected and illuminating connections to other relevant research, as well as a renewed sense of urgency and excitement for the study of emotion perspectives.