Benefitting from a different perspective: The effect of a complementary matching of psychological distance and habitual perspective on emotion regulation

Ya Ling Wang, Yi Cheng Lin*, Chin Lan Huang, Kuang Hui Yeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Psychological distance in terms of its purpose as a psychological adjustment is currently not well understood. Some researchers claim that psychological distance serves as an emotion regulator, while others argue that psychological distance has the reverse effect, leading to cognitive avoidance and rumination. To elucidate upon this discrepancy, we propose that a complementary matching of psychological distance to one's habitual psychological distance perspective may lead to better emotion regulation when compared to the original perspective (i.e. fixing on either psychological immersion or distance). This study hypothesizes that a complementary matching of psychological distance to one's habitual perspective generally leads to better emotion regulation; specifically, individuals with high avoidant attachment, who habitually distance themselves from their experiences, may benefit from psychological immersion, while individuals with high anxious attachment, who habitually immerse themselves in their experiences, may benefit from psychological distancing. A total of 83 participants completed measures of adult attachment orientations; read a conflict scenario, triggering their attachment systems; and then rewrote that scenario using designated pronouns, thereby employing psychological immersion or psychological distance. Participants in the self-immersed condition were asked to write from the first-person perspective, whereas those in the self-distancing condition were asked to write from the third-person perspective. The results support our hypothesis of a complementary matching of psychological distance and habitual perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sep
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attachment anxiety
  • Attachment avoidance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Psychological distance
  • Self-distancing
  • Self-immersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences(all)

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