Emotion regulation is important for psychological health and can be achieved by implementing various strategies. How one regulates emotions is critical for maximizing psychological health. Few studies, however, tested the psychological correlates of different emotion regulation strategies across multiple cultures. In a preregistered cross-cultural study (N = 3,960, 19 countries), conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, we assessed associations between the use of seven emotion regulation strategies (situation selection, distraction, rumination, cognitive reappraisal, acceptance, expressive suppression, and emotional support seeking) and four indices of psychological health (life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and loneliness). Model comparisons based on Bayesian information criteria provided support for cultural differences in 36% of associations, with very strong support for differences in 18% of associations. Strategies that were linked to worse psychological health in individualist countries (e.g., rumination, expressive suppression) were unrelated or linked to better psychological health in collectivist countries. Cultural differences in associations with psychological health were most prominent for expressive suppression and rumination and also found for distraction and acceptance. In addition, we found evidence for cultural similarities in 46% of associations between strategies and psychological health, but none of this evidence was very strong. Cultural similarities were most prominent in associations of psychological health with emotional support seeking. These findings highlight the importance of considering the cultural context to understand how individuals from diverse backgrounds manage unpleasant emotions.
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- emotion regulation