A New Study On Passion And Emotion Regulation Strategies On Well-Being And Ill-Being
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A New Study On Passion And Emotion Regulation Strategies On Well-Being And Ill-Being

passion and emotion regulation strategies

Training employees in the use of healthy emotion regulation strategies like cognitive reappraisal and promoting harmonious passions can have a significant positive impact on their mental health and reduce ill-being symptoms like depression that impact overall job performance.

How we as employees feel (level of mental health, feelings of passion and interest, for example) impacts just about everything we do from the quality of our interpersonal working relationships to outcomes such as profit margins and our level of productivity.

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Psychological well-being and ill-being

Managing psychological well-being and ill-being is, or should be, an important aspect of organisational life.

Mental or psychological well-being includes things like:

  • a sense of satisfaction with life and our work
  • personal growth
  • the meaning or purpose we ascribe to things, our life and work
  • whether we feel as though we are self-actualising or becoming the best version of ourselves

In contrast, psychological ill-being tends to be measured by things like:

  • depression
  • low life satisfaction
  • low levels of vitality or enthusiasm

that indicate a person is struggling to maintain a positive mindset and good mental health.

well-being at work

How employees manage their mental health

Employees commonly manage their mental health by using emotion regulation strategies, which are processes people use to influence:

  • what they feel in any situation
  • the intensity of the feelings they have
  • their ability to change their emotions and emotional responses
  • how feelings are communicated and expressed

People’s emotion regulation capabilities have a significant impact on their mental state and well-being, as well as longer term health and success outcomes.

Emotion regulation strategies

The two most common emotion regulation strategies are:

  1. Cognitive reappraisal, which refers to the ability to actively re-evaluate and reframe a situation that initially created a negative emotional reaction in order to develop a new understanding of the situation.  This allows people to see a situation from a different perspective and in a more positive light

The capability to engage in positive cognitive reappraisal is strongly associated with positive psychological well-being, because it allows people to change their initial negative impression or perception of a situation into a positive one, which can lead to happier feelings and a more optimistic mindset.

2. Expressive suppression, which is the practice of restraining or clamping down on emotions by reducing emotionally expressive behaviour to conceal the true emotions. Hiding anger because it is perceived as a negative emotion is an example of expressive suppression.

Expressive suppression significantly reduces people’s ability to process and understand emotions and their emotional reactions to situations.  Expressive suppression has been found to backfire and, in many circumstances, to increase negative emotions. This tends to have a negative impact on the individual’s emotions, their responses and decision making.



An interesting emotional response, particularly in work environments, is the impact of passion. The passion an individual feels for their career, personal hobbies and loved ones can also affect their psychological well-being and ill-being. There are two common forms of passion:

1.Harmonious passion, which refers to an intense mental and emotional commitment to activities that complement other life goals and can be engaged in freely. Harmonious passion tends to create a positive sense of self.

Harmonious passion tends to be associated with psychological well-being because of the healthy emotional and mental state it evokes. Furthermore, people who have harmonious passion tend to retain control over their thoughts and feelings. This level and sense of control over the individual’s own thinking and emotions invariably leads to greater levels of cognitive reappraisal when difficult things occur.   This cognitive reappraisal, in turn, tends to exert a positive influence over their perception of negative events, thus they are more likely to reappraise and re-shape the event into more positive terms.

2. Obsessive passion, on the other hand, is an intense, uncontrollable need to engage in specific activities that usually overwhelms other life goals and needs. Obsessive passion creates imbalance and usually results in a defensive attitude towards the passion.

Obsessive passion tends to be associated with psychological ill-being because of its tendency to promote defensiveness about behaviour that is more often than not less socially acceptable. Obsessions are frequently seen as unhealthy, due to the imbalance it causes in other areas of that person’s life. It has been found that obsessive passion is more likely to be associated with expressive suppression. People with obsessive passions are much more likely to suppress emotions to allow them to focus on the obsession. A side effect of this is that the individual is prevented from addressing the causes of the obsession and any issues that their obsession is causing.

passion at work

Previous research

Previous research looking at the effects of passion and emotion regulation strategies on psychological well-being and ill-being have found that:

  • Harmonious passion rarely causes self-neglect, and it can prevent employees from experiencing work burnout.
  • Obsessive passion is usually negatively related, or completely unrelated, to psychological well-being;  it rarely, if ever, leads to healthy outcomes.
  • Cognitive appraisal significantly predicts well-being compared to expressive suppression.
  • Both harmonious and obsessive passion have been found to give people an awareness of their purpose in life.
  • Higher expressive suppression is associated with low levels of conflict resolution capability, which can increase psychological ill-being.
  • Cognitive reappraisal has been found to reduce the negative effects of issues like bullying at work.

A new study

A new study by researchers from the Université du Québec a Montréal in Canada has looked at the relationship between passion and emotion regulation strategies, including the effects of specific emotion regulation strategies on psychological well-being.

emotion regulation strategies


The study found that:

In terms of well-being

An employee’s level of well-being tends to predict the types of emotion regulation strategies they choose to use over time. If well-being is high, they are more likely to be using cognitive reappraisal strategies.

In terms of ill-being

Conversely, the study found that people with higher levels of ill-being tend are more likely to engage in expressive suppression strategies more often.

In terms of passion

Additionally, in terms of passion the researchers found that:

  • Harmonious passion increases as cognitive reappraisal increases.
  • Harmonious passion also decreases as expressive suppression increases.
  • Obsessive passion increases as expressive suppression increases.
  • Obsessive passion also decreases as cognitive reappraisal increases.

For emotion regulation strategies

Moreover, for emotion regulation strategies:

  • As the use of cognitive reappraisal strategies and techniques increases, positive measures of well-being also increase.
  • As people use cognitive reappraisal more often, the use of expressive suppression decreases and is used a lot less.
  • As expressive suppression increases, negative ill-being measures like depression also increase.

The main point is that emotion regulation strategies and passion have significant impacts on an employee’s psychological ill-being and well-being.

Thus, the emotion regulation strategies people habitually use can help employees manage their mental health by:

  1. Directly influencing levels of psychological well-being or ill-being
  2. Indirectly influencing well-being and ill-being by promoting different, healthy passion perspectives.

Training employees in the use of healthy emotion regulation strategies like cognitive reappraisal and promoting harmonious passions can have a significant positive impact on their mental health and reduce ill-being symptoms like depression that impact overall job performance.

Emotion regulation


St-Louis, A. C., Rapaport, M., Poirier, L. C., Vallerand, R. J., & Dandeneau, S. (2021). On emotion regulation strategies and well-being: The role of passion. Journal of Happiness Studies22(4), 1791-1818.

Podcast: Emotions, expectations and behaviour

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