Emotionships: Examining People’s Emotion-Regulation Relationships and Their Consequences for Well-Being

Elaine O. Cheung*, Wendi L. Gardner, Jason F. Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Is it better to have a few relationships that can fulfill all our emotion-regulation needs or to have a more diverse relationship portfolio, in which different individuals serve distinct emotion-regulation needs? The present research examined how people distribute their emotion-regulation needs across different emotion-specific regulation relationships (emotionships) and their consequences for well-being. Study 1 demonstrated the existence of emotionships by showing that individuals can name discrete relationships that they consider effective at regulating specific emotions (e.g., I turn to my sister to cheer me up when I’m sad) and that the accessibility and value of these relationships change as a function of manipulated emotional states. Studies 2a and 2b revealed that individuals who diversified their emotion-regulation needs across multiple specialized relationships (e.g., having distinct relationships for cheering up sadness vs. soothing anxiety) showed higher well-being than those with similar numbers of close relationships, but who concentrated their emotion-regulation needs in fewer, less specialized relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • emotion regulation
  • emotions
  • relationships
  • social networks
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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