Perceived emotion suppression and culture: Effects on psychological well-being

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Abstract

Whether the negative effects of emotion suppression on psychological well-being are applicable cross-culturally is a long-debated topic. The present study attempted to shed light on this debate, focusing on the effects of perceived emotion suppression and examining the psychological processes leading from perceived emotion suppression to lower psychological well-being. We used a scale manipulation to lead 196 American and 213 Chinese participants to perceive themselves as having suppressed their emotions to a greater or lesser extent and then measured their life satisfaction. As expected, both the American and Chinese participants reported lower life satisfaction in the high-suppression condition than in the low-suppression condition; this negative effect was mediated by positive affect and moderated by self-esteem. Specifically, perceived high emotion suppression decreased positive affect, which in turn led to lower well-being. This effect was observed only for those with low self-esteem, but the patterns and mechanisms were consistent cross-culturally.

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