Gottman first introduced the term meta-emotion in 1996 within the context of “parental meta-emotional philosophy”, which focused on the metaemotional reactions experienced by parents to their children’s emotions. The concept was since then studied by many fields of psychology that have reached a common understanding of the meaning of meta-emotion. The term meta-emotions refers to the set of emotions and thoughts that one experiences about a preceding emotion, therefore being considered “secondary emotions.” For example: after feeling angry (primary emotion) and screaming at my friend, I felt ashamed for feeling that way and thought I should have been able to control it (meta-emotions or secondary emotions).
Metaemotions play an important role in emotional regulation, and studies have shown that meta-emotional experience represents a predictor of well-being and mental health. The long-term experience of negative meta-emotions has been associated with different emotional disorders.