The role of control in emotion, emotion regulation, and empathy kevin ocHsner
The ability to control the contents of our mind, and how those contents lead to behavior, is required in virtually every sphere of life. In this chapter I focus on two that involve emotion: on one hand, the use of control to regulate the experience and expression of our emotions-thereby enabling us to change what we feel-and on the other hand, the use of controlled processes to help us make sense of the emotions of others-thereby enabling us to change our perceptions of what others feel. The starting premise is that neuroscience data can usefully inform knowledge of the mechanisms underlying these two uses of control. With that in mind, the chapter is divided into four parts. In the first, I sketch a current conception of how we exert control over our behavior and the neural systems that make this possible. In the second and third sections I apply these conceptions first to the study of emotion regulation, and second to the study of empathy. The final section considers the implications of this work for various areas of psychology.