Psychology

A Cooling-Off Period

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Science  16 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5742, pp. 1790
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5742.1790d

In interpersonal situations, conflicts are inevitable and tempers can flare, sometimes with long-lasting and deleterious consequences for one's psyche. Coming to grips with emotional upset has been pursued via talk-based therapies, and Kross et al. suggest one way that these interventions might be focused for greater benefit. Translating negative experiences into abstract or intellectualized representations may run the risk of suppressing and avoiding the very reasons for the distress, yet opening the door to reliving the emotionally troubling events may lead to destructive and iterative rumination. In two experiments, the authors show that adopting the viewpoint of an observer while continuing to attend fully to theaffective components of the experience can help to process negative emotions, perhaps by yoking the autonomic arousal system (hot) to cognitive control circuits (cool). — GJC

Psychol. Sci. 16, 709 (2005).

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