If aversive events or unpleasant emotions cause aggression, why is there not more aggression and violence (Baumeister & Bushman, 2007)? The answer is that humans are able to regulate their emotions. Most people are able to regulate emotional expression, which infants gradually learn to do, and to conceal and enact emotions consistent with cultural or family values (Izard & Malatesta, 1987).
Loeber and Hay (1997) explain that “The control of anger and tolerance of frustrating circumstances are a major achievement in early socialization and not one that comes automatically” (p. 389). Individuals who do not master some reasonable level of emotional control are vulnerable to psychological disturbance; emotional dysregulation figures prominently in most personality disorders (Gross, 1999). Most children have acquired strategies to help them manage anger and frustration by middle childhood (Loeber & Hay, 1997).
Many developmentalists believe that sensitive parenting and parental warmth foster the development of emotion regulation, beginning in infancy. We return to the development of the emotional system in the section about parental warmth below.