What you want to feel determines how you feel : The role of ideal affect in emotion regulation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Journal / PublicationThe Journal of Positive Psychology
Online published26 Apr 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 26 Apr 2022


This research investigated whether emotion regulation can be determined by one’s desired affective state (i.e., ideal affect). Study 1 explored whether ideal affect could explain differences in two emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression) between cultural groups (European Americans vs. Hong Kong Chinese; N = 300). Results revealed that ideal high arousal positive states correlated positively with cognitive reappraisal. Study 2 further tested the causal impact of ideal affect on emotion regulation (N = 101). To manipulate their ideal low/high arousal positive states, participants were randomly assigned to either a ‘peaceful meeting’ or an ‘exciting party’ condition. The participants’ strategies to regulate negative emotions were assessed. Results showed that, regardless of cultural background, participants in the party condition employed more cognitive reappraisal than those in the meeting condition. These findings indicated that what we want to feel partly determines how we regulate our emotions.

Research Area(s)

  • Ideal affect, cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, European Americans, Hong Kong Chinese