Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 3–22 | Cite as

The face of repressive coping: Social context and the display of hostile expressions and social smiles

  • Tamara L. Newton
  • Jeannette M. Haviland
  • Richard J. Contrada


The present study examined the nonverbal correlates of repressive coping, extending previous research in two ways: (1) participants' nonverbal behaviors were observed in either of two conditions that differed with respect to the salience of public identity; (2) an anatomically-based facial coding system was used to assess participants' emotion expressions and symbolic communication behaviors. Sixty female undergraduates, classified as repressive, low-anxious, or high-anxious, were videotaped during the preparation and delivery of a self-disclosing speech. During both the preparation and delivery, the salience of participants' public identities was either minimized (low-salience condition) or maximized (high-salience condition). Repressors and nonrepressors exhibited similar frequencies of hostile facial expressions. Repressors differed from nonrepressors by their frequent expressions of social smiles and conversational illustrators when their public selves were most salient. These findings suggest that certain symbolic communication behaviors may be nonverbal analogues of cognitive coping processes, and they support the utility of including expressive behaviors in conceptualizations of emotion-focused coping.


Facial Expression Emotion Expression Code System Similar Frequency Nonverbal Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Asendorpf, J. B., & Scherer, K. R. (1983). The discrepant repressor: Differentiation between low anxiety, high anxiety, and repression of anxiety by autonomic-facial-verbal patterns of behavior.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1334–1346.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., & Cairns, K. J. (1992). Repression and self-presentation: When audiences interfere with self-deceptive strategies.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 851–862.Google Scholar
  3. Buck, R. (1984).The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  4. Buck, R., Losow, J. I., Murphy, M. M., & Costanzo, P. (1992). Social facilitation and inhibition of emotional expression and communication.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 962–968.Google Scholar
  5. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981).Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales.Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37–46.Google Scholar
  7. Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1964).The approval motive: Studies in evaluative dependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. DePaulo, B. M. (1992). Nonverbal behavior and self-presentation.Psychological Bulletin, 111, 203–243.Google Scholar
  9. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1975).Unmasking the face. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1982). Felt, false, and miserable smiles.Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 6, 238–252Google Scholar
  11. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1986). A new pan-cultural facial expression of emotion.Motivation and Emotion, 10, 159–168.Google Scholar
  12. Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & O'Sullivan, M. (1988). Smiles when lying.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 414–420.Google Scholar
  13. Erdelyi, M. H. (1974). A new look at the New Look: Perceptual defense and vigilance.Psychological Review, 81, 1–25.Google Scholar
  14. Fridlund, A. J., Ekman, P., & Oster, H. (1987). Facial expressions of emotion: Review of literature, 1970–1983. In A. W. Siegman & S. Feldstein (Eds.),Nonverbal behavior and communication (pp. 143–224). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Friedman, H. S., & Miller-Herringer, T. (1991). Nonverbal display of emotion in public and private: Self-monitoring, personality, and expressive cues.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 766–775.Google Scholar
  16. Izard, C. E. (1978).The Maximally Discriminative Facial Movement Coding System. University of Delaware.Google Scholar
  17. Izard, C. E. (1991).The psychology of emotions. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  18. Keppel, G. (1982).Design and analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  19. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984).Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Malatesta, C. Z., & Haviland, J. M. (1982). Learning display rules: The socialization of emotion expression in infancy.Child Development, 53, 991–1003.Google Scholar
  21. Malatesta, C. Z., & Izard, C. E. (1984). The facial expression of emotion: Young, middle-aged, and older adult expressions. In C. Z. Malatesta & C. E. Izard (Eds.),Emotion in adult development (pp. 253–273). Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Newton, T. L., & Contrada, R. J. (1992). Repressive coping and verbal-autonomic response dissociation: The influence of social context.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 159–167.Google Scholar
  23. Rozin, P., Lowery, L., & Ebert, R. (1994). Varieties of disgust faces and the structure of disgust.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 870–881.Google Scholar
  24. Taylor, J. A. (1953). A personality scale of manifest anxiety.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 48, 285–290.Google Scholar
  25. Wallbott, H. G., & Scherer, K. R. (1991). Stress specificities: Differential effects of coping style, gender, and type of stressor on autonomic arousal, facial expression, and subjective feeling.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 147–156.Google Scholar
  26. Weinberger, D. A. (1990). The construct validity of the repressive coping style. In J. L. Singer (Ed.),Repression and dissociation (pp. 337–386). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Weinberger, D. A., & Davidson, M. N. (1994). Styles of inhibiting emotional expression: Distinguishing repressive coping from impression management.Journal of Personality, 62, 587–613.Google Scholar
  28. Weinberger, D. A., Schwartz, G. E., & Davidson, R. J. (1979). Low-anxious, high-anxious, and repressive coping styles: Psychometric patterns and behavioral and physiological responses to stress.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 369–380.Google Scholar
  29. Winer, B. J. (1971).Statistical principles in experimental design (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamara L. Newton
    • 1
  • Jeannette M. Haviland
  • Richard J. Contrada
  1. 1.Women's Health Sciences Division, National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 116 B-3Boston VA Medical CenterBoston

Personalised recommendations