The Social Costs of Emotional Suppression: A Prospective Study of the Transition to College

Sanjay Srivastava*, Maya Tamir, Kelly M. McGonigal, Oliver P. John, James J. Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is growing interest in understanding how emotion regulation affects adaptation. The present study examined expressive suppression (which involves inhibiting the overt expression of emotion) and how it affects a critical domain of adaptation, social functioning. This investigation focused on the transition to college, a time that presents a variety of emotional and social challenges. Analyses focused on 2 components of suppression: a stable component, representing individual differences expressed both before and after the transition, and a dynamic component, representing variance specific to the new college context. Both components of suppression predicted lower social support, less closeness to others, and lower social satisfaction. These findings were robustly corroborated across weekly experience reports, self-reports, and peer reports and are consistent with a theoretical framework that defines emotion regulation as a dynamic process shaped by both stable person factors and environmental demands.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)883-897
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume96
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • emotion regulation
  • life transitions
  • relationship satisfaction
  • social adjustment
  • social support

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