Two separate experiments conducted in the study revealed polarized reactions in participants with strong emotion regulation skills.
First the researchers administered a survey that measured how well each participant could manage his or her emotions. Following this, the first experiment involved a game that pitted participants’ own self-interest against the common good, and found that those with good at regulating their emotions were significantly more considerate of the common good.
In the second study, a different set of participants were assessed on their level of “Machiavellianism,” or how willing they are to manipulate others for their own personal gain. It was found that those who rated high in Machiavellian impulses were especially more likely to treat people poorly if they were also skilled at emotion regulation.
The study’s lead researcher, Stephane Cote, explains this finding: “guilt or compassion could get in the way of a Machiavellian’s selfish goals; being able to control those emotions could help them act on their nasty desires, just as a moral person would want to temper his selfish impulses in order to help other people.” 1
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