Chapter 14 – Emotion Regulation

Cultural Differences in the Consequences of Expressive Suppression

A recent study (Butler et al., 2007) investigated whether culture changes the consequences of suppression.  In this study, female participants self-reported their cultural values on a scale that ranged from -3 – European values only to +3 – a combination of European and Asian values (called “bipolar values”). Cultural values were positively correlated with self-reported suppression, indicating that holding people who hold both Asian and American values have a tendency to engage in suppression. This means without being instructed, Asian American women will have a tendency to engage in expressive suppression.  Figure 20 shows the relationship between tendency to suppress and the tendency to experiences negative emotion for women holding European values and women holding bi-cultural values.  This findings shows that suppression does not significantly increase negative emotions for individuals who ascribe to bi-cultural values.

Figure 20
Influence of Trait Suppression and Self-Reported Cultural Values on Tendency to Experience Negative Emotions

Self reported negative emotions (0 through 4) scale is the label of the y axis. Self reported tendency to suppress is the label of the x axis. A blue line is used on the graph to indicate asian and European values, and a red line is used to indicate european values. the x axis is also incremented in two sections that make up the x axis. Low tendency to suppress is the starting section of the x axis, then halfway through the x axis, it changes to High tendency to suppress. So the lines are indicating a low tendency to suppress the negative emotions near the lines start, and as they travel the x axis, the data at the end of he line represents a high tendency to suppress.

Adapted from “Emotion Regulation and Culture: Are the Social Consequences Oof Emotion Suppression Culture-Specific?” by E.A. Butler, T.L. Lee, T. L., and J.J. Gross, 2007, Emotion7(1), p. 36 (https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.7.1.30) Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association.

 

A follow-up study assigned the same women with European and bi-cultural values to suppression or control dyads as in prior studies. Both groups watched upsetting film clips and either suppressed or watched (control). Results showed that when European value participants suppressed, their partners perceived them to be more hostile and withdrawn compared to the partners of bi-cultural suppressors (see Figure 21). In addition, suppressors with European values spent more time showing hostile and unresponsive facial expressions compared to suppressors with bi-cultural values (Figures 22 and 23). What does this tell us? Well, people with European values tend to exhibit facial expressions during suppression that have a detrimental impact of their relationship interactions. This provides early support to some researchers views that suppression might be more detrimental to the health and relationships of people raised in Western countries, but not East Asian countries.

 
Figure 21
Interaction between Cultural Values and Regulation Group on Perceptions of Hostility and Withdrawal of Partners
Three lines on a graph. a red line for Supressor's Partners. A blue line for suppressors. A dashed line for controls. The x axis is labeled: self-reported cultural values. The x axis consists of two sections. The left half of the x axis is labeled: Bi-cultural, while the second half is labeled: European. This indicates that as the lines travel across the x axis, they start with data for bi-cultural values, transitioning to european values for the data in the second half of each line. The y axis is labeled: Perception of Partner's Hostility and Withdrawal ( 0 to 3 ) scale. The y axis starts at 0 and is incremented by 0.5 to a maximum of 2.
Adapted from “Emotion Regulation and Culture: Are the Social Consequences Oof Emotion Suppression Culture-Specific?” by E.A. Butler, T.L. Lee, T. L., and J.J. Gross, 2007, Emotion7(1), p. 42 (https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.7.1.30) Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association.

 

Figure 22
Interaction between Cultural Values and Regulation Group on Percent of Time Expressing Unresponsive Facial Expressions
A line graph with three lines. A blue line for Suppressors. A red line for Suppressor's Partners. A dashed line for controls. The x axis is labeled: self-reported cultural values. The x axis consists of two sections. The left half of the x axis is labeled: Bi-cultural, while the second half is labeled: European. This indicates that as the lines travel across the x axis, they start with data for bi-cultural values, transitioning to european values for the data in the second half of each line. The y axis is labeled: % of time being unresponsive. The y axis starts at 0 and increases in increments of 2, to a maximum of 16.

A line graph with three lines. A blue line for Suppressors. A red line for Suppressor's Partners. A dashed line for controls. The x axis is labeled: self-reported cultural values. The x axis consists of two sections. The left half of the x axis is labeled: Bi-cultural, while the second half is labeled: European. This indicates that as the lines travel across the x axis, they start with data for bi-cultural values, transitioning to european values for the data in the second half of each line. The y axis is labeled: % of time expressed hostile facial expressions. The y axis starts at 0 and incremented by 1 to a maximum of 5.

Adapted from “Emotion Regulation and Culture: Are the Social Consequences Oof Emotion Suppression Culture-Specific?” by E.A. Butler, T.L. Lee, T. L., and J.J. Gross, 2007, Emotion7(1), p. 43 (https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.7.1.30) Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association.

 

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