People differ in how they regulate their emotions, and how they do so is guided by their beliefs about emotion. We propose that social power – one’s perceived influence over others – relates to one’s beliefs about emotion and to emotion regulation. More powerful people are characterized as authentic and uninhibited, which should translate to the belief that one should not have to control one’s emotions and, in turn, less suppression and more acceptance. More powerful people are also characterized as self-efficacious and confident, which should translate to the belief that one can control one’s emotions and, in turn, more reappraisal and acceptance.
Two preregistered studies using four samples (N
=1,286) tested these hypotheses using cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys as well as diaries.
In Study 1, power related to beliefs about emotion and emotion regulation in hypothesized ways. Study 2 also largely supported the hypotheses: The belief that one should not have to control one’s emotions accounted for the links between power and suppression and acceptance, whereas the belief that one can control one’s emotions accounted for the link between power and reappraisal.
Power and emotion regulation are interconnected, in part because of their links with beliefs about emotions.