chapter  10
28 Pages

On the Hidden Benefits of State Orientation: Can People Prosper Without Efficient Affect-Regulation Skills?

SANDER L. KOOLE, JULIUS KUHL, NILS B. JOSTMANN, AND KATHLEEN D. VOHS

Personal mastery over one’s emotional life is a highly valued psychological commodity. Hollywood films glorify men and women who manage to heroically overcome their worst fears and frustrations. Religious doctrines proclaim the importance of achieving inner peace amid worldly turmoil. On top of all this, an army of self-help books, TV shows, and Web sites advertise such virtues as positive thinking, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence. Although popular claims about the benefits of affect regulation are probably exaggerated, empirical research has confirmed that efficient affect regulation is vital to several key aspects of human functioning (Gross, 2002; Kuhl & Koole, 2004). For instance, successful affect regulation has been found to foster emotional well-being (Baumann, Kaschel, & Kuhl, 2003a), positive interpersonal relations (Butler et al., 2003), and goal achievement (Kuhl, 1981). Based on these and similar findings, some authors have argued that affect-regulation skills may be even more important than IQ in terms of promoting beneficial outcomes for the individual and society at large (Goleman, 1995).