Title

Capturing naturally occurring emotional suppression as it unfolds in couple interactions

Document Type

Article

Version

Author's Final Manuscript

Publication Title

Emotion

Publication Date

2018

Abstract

Most research examining the consequences of suppressing emotional expression has focused on either experimentally manipulated and conscious suppression, or self-reported suppression behavior. This study examined suppression as it naturally occurred in couple (n= 105) discussions regarding a challenging topic. A Suppression Index (SI) was created by calculating the difference between continuous self-reports of emotional experience, obtained using cued video recall, and coders’ continuous ratings of expressed emotion. Suppression was common for both men and women, though there was also substantial individual variation. Autocorrelations of the SIwere used to tap Suppressive Rigidity (Srig), or the tendency to inflexibly use suppression throughout the discussions. Srigscores were consistent within individuals across repeated conversations and varied across individuals, suggesting that Srigcaptures stable individual differences. Women’s greater suppression of negative emotions combined with more rigid use of suppression was associated with their own lower relationship satisfaction but not their partners’. These findings indicate that suppressive behavior may be linked to relationship quality, and that it is not just the use of suppression that may matter but how rigidly one applies this regulatory approach.

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