On emotional control


in Geek stuff, Psychology

The New York Times has an interesting piece today on emotional regulation. While being able to prevent sudden emotional outbursts is clearly a beneficial ability in general, the article points out how those with too much emotional control can alienate others, especially younger people who have not yet fully developed their own emotional control systems:

Socially speaking, in short, the ability to shrug off feelings of disgust or outrage may suit an older group but strike younger people as inauthentic, even callous.

It is an interesting observation and has the ring of truth to it. While we certainly don’t want the people around us to panic or freak out for unimportant reasons, it is not surprising that they might make us suspicious be responding in an overly cool way to emotionally fraught situations.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh July 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I find it interesting, but true, that acceptability of emotional outbursts depends in part on one’s age. What is tolerable for a young child would not be tolerated in an adult.

Milan July 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

The point being made here is the other way around.

When young people see a person responding to a challenging situation without emotion, it makes them suspicious. Apparently, this is less of an effect for older observers.

. August 10, 2010 at 11:47 am

“It’s tempting to imagine that [you] could be forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky, but that’s a false hope, because it’s other people who get to decide when they think you’re a jerk, and trying to stay under that threshold means giving those people veto power over your actions. To put yourself forward as someone good enough to do interesting things is, by definition, to expose yourself to all kinds of negative judgments, and as far as I can tell, the fact that other people get to decide what they think of your behavior leaves only two strategies for not suffering from those judgments: not doing anything, or not caring about the reaction. Not caring works surprisingly well.”

-Clay Shirky

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