The relation between social sharing and the duration of emotional experience

Karen Brans*, Iven Van Mechelen, Bernard Rime, Philippe Verduyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Web of Science)


People often socially share their emotions to regulate them. Two-mode theory of social sharing states that cognitive sharing will contribute to emotional recovery, whereas socio-affective sharing will only temporarily alleviate emotional distress. Previous studies supporting this theory, measured emotional recovery in terms of residual emotional intensity. Until now, another important time-dynamic aspect of emotions, emotion duration, has been largely ignored. In two experience sampling studies we addressed this gap. In Study 1, participants reported on the duration of anger, fear, and sadness episodes; additionally time-varying information on the occurrence and mode of sharing was collected. This study revealed that sharing led to a shortening in emotion duration, in particular when it was socio-affective in nature. In Study 2 we investigated whether this result could be interpreted in terms of our measure of duration primarily reflecting emotional relief rather than recovery. In this study, the same method as in Study 1 was used; additionally, residual emotional intensity was measured three days after emotion onset. Study 2 largely replicated the findings from Study 1. Furthermore, duration appeared to be empirically distinct from residual intensity. Finally, no relation between sharing and residual intensity was found, even when considering the sharing mode.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1041
Number of pages19
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Social sharing
  • Two-mode theory
  • Emotion duration
  • Emotional relief
  • Emotional recovery
  • FEEL
  • BAD

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