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Emotion dysregulation as a dynamic process

  • Pamela M. Cole (a1), K. Ashana Ramsook (a1) and Nilam Ram (a2)


In this article we adopt the view that emotion dysregulation is characterized by emotion regulation dynamics that are defined as dysfunctional based on contextual criteria. We regard the construct of emotion regulation as valuable because it permits the integration of the classic view of emotions as interfering with human functioning and contemporary views of emotion as adaptive and beneficial. To define patterns that reflect emotion dysregulation, we explain our views of emotion as a dynamic process, and emotion regulation as the bidirectional interplay between emotions and actions/thoughts (extrinsic factors) and the contextual factors that constitute the criteria for that interplay reflecting dysregulation. This conceptualization of emotion regulation and dysregulation leads to methods for studying the intrinsic dynamics of emotion, extrinsic factors that change the intrinsic dynamics of emotion, and how emotion regulation changes over time at multiple time scales. We then apply this thinking to several emotion dysregulation patterns. Emotion regulation is a complex construct, embracing emotion as regulator and as regulated, as self- and other-regulated, and as incorporating both top-down and bottom-up regulatory processes. We highlight an emerging line of research on the development of emotion regulation in early childhood and indicate how this work can inform understanding of emotion dysregulation and the emergence of psychopathology.


Corresponding author

Author for Correspondence: Pamela M. Cole, Department of Psychology, 210 Moore Building, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16801; E-mail:


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