What motivates people to regulate the emotions of others? Prior research has shown that people are motivated to regulate the emotions of others to make others feel better. This investigation, however, was designed to test whether people are also motivated to regulate the emotions of others to promote personal instrumental benefits. We tested whether participants would be motivated to increase unpleasant (Studies 1-3) or pleasant (Study 3) emotions in others, when they expected to benefit from doing so. We found that participants tried to increase an emotion in others when it was expected to lead to desirable outcomes, but decrease an emotion in others when it was expected to lead to undesirable outcomes. These instrumental motives were found even when they led participants to make their partners feel worse and their rivals feel better. Furthermore, the more participants expected others' emotions to result in behaviors that would personally benefit (or harm) participants themselves, the more they were motivated to increase (or decrease) the corresponding emotion in others. These findings demonstrate the operation of instrumental motives in regulating the emotions of others, whether friends of foes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas