Emotion Regulation: Antecedents and Well-Being Outcomes of Cognitive Reappraisal and Expressive Suppression in Cross-Cultural Samples

Abstract

Habitual emotional state is a predictor of long-term health and life expectancy and successful emotion regulation is necessary for adaptive functioning. However, people are often unsuccessful in regulating their emotions. We investigated the use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression in 489 university students in Norway, Australia, and the United States and how these strategies related to measures of well-being (affect, life satisfaction, and depressed mood). Data was collected by means of selfadministered questionnaires. The major aims of the study were to begin to explore the prevalence of use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression across gender, age and culture, possible antecedents of emotion regulation strategies, and the influence of emotion regulation upon well-being. Results showed that the use of emotion regulation strategies varied across age, gender and culture. Private self-consciousness (self-reflection and insight) was found to be a central antecedent for the use of cognitive reappraisal. Use of emotion regulation strategies predicted well-being outcomes, also after the effect of extraversion and neuroticism had been controlled for. Generally, increased use of cognitive reappraisal predicted increased levels of positive well-being outcomes, while increased use of expressive suppression predicted increased levels of negative well-being outcomes.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Herein, the term emotion regulation is used consistent with John and Gross’ (2004) definition. Other researchers, e.g. Larsen and Prizmic (2004), have used different terms, for example affect regulation, to describe the same phenomenon.

  2. 2.

    The law of Jante (Janteloven) represents a cultural norm or “law” that has traditionally ruled the Scandinavian, and particularly the Norwegian, mentality (Jespersen 1962).

  3. 3.

    The terms private self-consciousness and self-reflection and insight are used interchangeably in the present paper. That is, when the term private self-consciousness is used it refers to both self-reflection and insight.

  4. 4.

    As the present study comprised a student population, the average age was fairly low and the cut-point age used for analytic purposes was therefore quite young.

  5. 5.

    Gabriel’s comparison procedure was used as the sample sizes differed slightly between cultures, and because it has been designed to cope specifically with such situations (Field 2005, p. 276).

  6. 6.

    These correlations and regressions were also executed controlling for gender, and as gender was found to not confound the findings pertaining to strategies and well-being, it is not discussed herein.

  7. 7.

    We also ran the same regressions with extraversion and neuroticism included as predictors, but the betas did not change substantially.

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Correspondence to Silje Marie Haga.

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Haga, S.M., Kraft, P. & Corby, E. Emotion Regulation: Antecedents and Well-Being Outcomes of Cognitive Reappraisal and Expressive Suppression in Cross-Cultural Samples. J Happiness Stud 10, 271–291 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-007-9080-3

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Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Expressive suppression
  • Affect
  • Satisfaction with life
  • Depressed mood