Emotion Regulation by Psychological Distance and Level of Abstraction: Two Meta-Analyses

Tal Moran, Tal Eyal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-159
Number of pages48
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number2
Early online date1 Feb 2022
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • emotion regulation
  • level of abstraction
  • meta-analysis
  • psychological distance
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Psychological Distance
  • Euphoria
  • Humans
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Concept Formation


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