Regulating emotions under exposure to negative out-group-related news material results in increased acceptance of out-groups

Negative emotions affect the acceptance of out-groups. Here, we investigated whether modifying negative emotions would affect perceptions of out-groups. We experimentally manipulated the use of two emotion regulation strategies: suppression of emotional expression and cognitive reappraisal, the latter involving reframing a situation to mitigate its emotional impact. Using a population-based sample (N = 317), we conducted an online randomized controlled trial. Participants regulated their emotions while reading threatening news about out-groups. Not only reappraisal, but also suppression increased immediate acceptance of out-groups. The effect of reappraisal was partly mediated by decreased disgust, suggesting unique effects of reappraisal on this emotion. In the suppression condition acceptance decreased at high levels of habitual emotion regulation, whereas reappraisal showed an opposite tendency. Previous research may have underestimated the importance of different emotion regulation strategies on prejudice, and that relatively simple interventions can affect prejudice. The findings are of interest to prejudice prevention programs.