Is Timing everything? Temporal considerations in emotion regulation

Gal Sheppes*, James J. Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is often said that timing is everything. The process model of emotion regulation has taken this aphorism to heart, suggesting that down-regulating emotions before they are "up and running" is always easier than down-regulating emotions once they have gathered force (i.e., generic timing hypothesis). But does timing (i.e., emotion intensity) matter equally for all forms of regulation? In this article, the authors offer an alternative process-specific timing hypothesis, in which emotion-generative and emotion-regulatory processes compete at either earlier or later stages of information processing. Regulation strategies that target early processing stages require minimal effort. Therefore, their efficacy should be relatively unaffected by emotion intensity. By contrast, regulation strategies that target later processing stages require effort that is proportional to the intensity of the emotional response. Therefore, their efficacy should be determined by the relative strength of regulatory versus emotional processes. Implications of this revised conception are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-331
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • distraction
  • emotion
  • emotion regulation
  • information processing
  • process model
  • reappraisal


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