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Venting as emotion regulation: The influence of venting responses and respondent identity on anger and emotional tone

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to explore the emotion regulatory aspects of venting and use an attribution appraisal framework to investigate the differential impact on anger and emotional tone given a reinforcing or reinterpreting response. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This research uses a 2 (target: offender or third party)×2 (response type: reinterpret or reinforce) between-subjects factorial design. Dependent variables are measured quantitatively in the form of a questionnaire. Findings ‐ This research supports the notion that venting may be used as an emotion regulatory strategy and highlights the importance of the reciprocal aspect of the venting interaction. In addition, this research underscores the importance of attributions in the venting process, in particular, the attributions used in responding to venting. This research shows that the response types (reinforcing or reinterpreting) as well as the identity of the target (offender or third party) are important determinants of anger and emotional tone. Research limitations/implications ‐ This research employs an anger recall methodology. Future research should explore venting and responses in a live anger setting. Practical implications ‐ What is said in response to venting matters. Respondents should be aware of the attributions they use when responding to venting. Originality/value ‐ Venting may persist as a common practice because we "feel better" after the venting interaction not because we release anger.

Keywords: Anger; Attributions; Conflict management; Emotion regulation; Emotions; Individual behaviour; Individual psychology; Negotiation; Venting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 10, 2012

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