Integrative emotion regulation relates to sympathy and support for outgroups-Independent of situational outgroup behaviour

Lara Ditrich, Jonas Reinhardt, Guy Roth, Kai Sassenberg

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Intergroup emotions powerfully shape intergroup relations. Anger and fear fuel, while hope and sympathy reduce intergroup strife. This implies that emotion regulation may play an important role in improving intergroup relations. Broadening the scope of prior research, we herein investigate the potential benefits of integrative emotion regulation for improving intergroup relations. Integrative emotion regulation involves actively paying attention to emotions to determine which information they provide. Interindividual differences in the use of integrative emotion regulation correlate with sympathy and supportiveness towards outgroups, but why this is the case is unclear. We tested two possible explanations: A person effect (i.e., interindividual differences in integrative emotion regulation shape respondents general outlook on outgroups) and a person-situation interaction effect (i.e., integrative emotion regulation reduces the impact of situational factors that would typically dampen sympathy, thereby shaping situation-specific responses to outgroups). In four experiments (total N = 984), we manipulated outgroup behaviour and measured interindividual differences in integrative emotion regulation. We found no interaction between integrative emotion regulation and outgroup behaviour in predicting outgroup-directed sympathy and supportiveness. Instead, integrative emotion regulation consistently correlated positively with supportiveness, mediated by sympathy. These findings suggest that those high in integrative emotion regulation have a more positive, general outlook on outgroups than those low in integrative emotion regulation, but being high in integrative emotion does not alter situational responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0296520
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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