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Talking (about) emotion: Emotion regulation through verbal expression (415)

The project is aimed at providing scientific evidence for the hypothesis that verbal expression and communication of one’s emotional state influences emotional self-regulation.

Emotion regulation refers to a person’s ability to modulate his or her own emotional state and to increase or decrease negative as well as positive emotions.

Emotion regulation and its neural correlates usually have been investigated with a focus on how individuals can exert voluntary control on their own through mechanisms such as attention deployment, cognitive reappraisal, or the wilful suppression of emotional expressions. However, experiencing emotions also stimulates, and is stimulated by, social interactions in which people verbally express and communicate their feelings to others. To date, mechanisms of emotion regulation dependent on expression and communication of one’s feelings have received little scientific attention.

The project will characterize such mechanisms on a subjective and psycho-physiological as well as on a neuronal level. Specifically, we will investigate the impact of verbally acknowledging or denying, exaggerating or understating an emotional response. Moreover, we will take a closer look at the dynamic process of communicating about emotions against the background of social comparison. Finally, we will investigate the impact of empathetic verbal comments on anger regulation.


Prehn, K., Kazzer, P., Bajbouj, M., Heekeren, H. R., Jacobs, A., Klann-Delius, G., Menninghaus, W. (2011). Regulating one's own emotions through strategies of verbalization. 53. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen. Halle (Saale).