I don´t fit, so I blame you? - Influence of Regulatory Focus and Fit on Emotion Generation and Regulation in Single- and Group-Context
Person-environment-interactions play a main role in the process of emotional experience. While Regulatory Focus Theory has been adopted to illustrate how some goal-oriented parts of this process might shape by proposing a regulatory fit between individual and environmental characteristics, whether this fit not only implies feeling “right” but feeling “good” or at least cope better, has not been tested empirically. In this study, we extend earlier research on the influence of regulatory fit to the generation and regulation of emotions. We additionally emphasize the role of the context, by integrating current work on group-based emotion regulation in comparing single- and group-environments. We used a within-subjects design, with 2 (situational focus) x 2 (single/group environment) levels. Thirty-two male football players participated in one football-specific task per level. Emotional experience and cognitive regulation strategies were measured after each. Multilevel regression showed, that a regulatory fit predicted more passive-negative emotions in both and more active-negative emotions in the group-environments. The Regulatory fit predicted stronger use of functional regulation strategies in the single- but less in the group-environment. Group-membership predicted stronger use of group-based regulation strategies and weaker use of other strategies – thus indicating further constraints and new ways to cope. We discuss the counter-intuitive results regarding emotional experience in the light of the athletic context as well as theoretical accounts of regulatory fit and its role in moderating motivational intensity and value assignment. Results regarding influence of group-membership are integrated into current research and we highlight directions for future research.