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End Time and Emotions: Emotion Regulation Functions of Eschatological Expectations among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
Authors:
Hege Kristin Ringnes MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

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Sarah Demmrich University of Munster Germany

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Harald Hegstad MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

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Gry Stålsett MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society Modum Bad Psychiatric Centre Vikersund Norway

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Lars Johan Danbolt MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society Centre for Psychology of Religion, Innlandet Hospital Trust Norway

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Abstract

The aim of this qualitative interview study was to explore the specific expectations that N = 29 Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) had of end times and paradise using an emotion regulation perspective. Beyond the general eschatological doctrine of JWs, the participants were encouraged to report their individual beliefs and connected emotions. Thematic analysis identified forecasting of life in paradise in the form of a continuation of physical life but with an overall positive emotional atmosphere. Emotionally, paradise was often contrasted with the present time, as negative emotions and the downregulation of strong positive emotions dominate the current end time. As an emotion regulation strategy between current end times and future paradise, emotional forecasting, i.e., predicting which emotions would arise in the future to regulate present-day emotions, is used. The results are discussed in the frame of positive and negative psychological implications of JWs’ eschatological beliefs and emotional forecasting.

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