Self-reflection is suggested to attenuate feelings, yet researchers disagree on whether adopting a distant or near perspective, or processing the experience abstractly or concretely, is more effective. Given the relationship between psychological distance and level of abstraction, we suggest the “construal-matching hypothesis”: Psychological distance and abstraction differently influence emotion intensity, depending on whether the emotion’s appraisal involves low-level or high-level construal. Two meta-analyses tested the effects of psychological distance (k = 230) and level-of-abstraction (k = 98) manipulations on emotional experience. A distant perspective attenuated emotional experience (g = 0.52) but with weaker effects for high-level (g = 0.29; for example, self-conscious emotions) than low-level emotions (g= 0.64; for example, basic emotions). Level of abstraction only attenuated the experience of low-level emotions (g = 0.2) and showed a reverse (nonsignificant) effect for high-level emotions (g = −0.13). These results highlight differences between distancing and level-of-abstraction manipulations and the importance of considering the type of emotion experienced in emotion regulation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by an Israel Science Foundation grant #1687-19 to Tal Eyal.
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
- emotion regulation
- level of abstraction
- psychological distance
- Emotional Regulation
- Psychological Distance
- Concept Formation