Freedom to feel: A self-determination theory account of emotion regulation

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11 Scopus citations


Self-determination theory (SDT) draws upon an organismic metatheory and suggests psychological growth occurs as an integrative process in which people assimilate and integrate experiences. As emotions play an important role in this process, researchers have recently espoused SDT as a basis for exploring emotion regulatory processes. This review summarizes this line of research and suggests how to integrate SDT with the dominant views of emotion regulation. Recent theory and research on emotion regulation situate this process within the domain of motivation research. As SDT has emerged as a prominent motivation theory, this review suggests SDT can provide important insights into emotion regulation research by highlighting the concept of autonomy. SDT is thus posited as a promising framework to study emotion regulation processes, as it explains how these processes enable people to grow psychologically and develop a coherent sense of self.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12563
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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