Is Emotional Suppression Always Bad? A Matter of Flexibility and Gender Differences
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Although emotional suppression has usually been considered to be associated to psychopathological symptoms and aggression, different studies yielded controversial findings and highlighted possible gender differences in these relationships. In an attempt to cast light on this issue, we administered to a sample of 380 community-dwelling individuals the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, the Aggression Questionnaire and the Symptom CheckList-90-Revised. Gender differences (favoring women) emerged on the habitual use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. Interestingly, associations of emotional suppression were only significant among females, and mainly regarded psychological distress. In an attempt to test whether the flexibility in the use of emotion regulation strategies was more important for psychological well-being, we tested interaction effects between reappraisal and suppression on psychopathological diseases and aggression measures. Significant interaction effects were found among men and only on aggressive measures. Such results confirmed gender differences in emotion regulation and the relevance of flexibility in the use of emotional regulation strategies as part of adaptive emotional functioning.
KeywordsEmotion regulation Aggression Psychopathology Gender differences Emotional suppression Cognitive reappraisal
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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