Suppression and Expression of Emotion in Social and Interpersonal Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis

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Abstract

Emotion expression is critical for the communication of important social information, such as emotional states and behavioral intentions. However, people tend to vary in their level of emotional expression. This meta-analysis investigated the relationships between levels of emotion expression and suppression, and social and interpersonal outcomes. PsycINFO databases, as well as reference lists were searched. Forty-three papers from a total of 3,200 papers met inclusion criteria, allowing for 105 effect sizes to be calculated. Meta-analyses revealed that greater suppression of emotion was significantly associated with poorer social wellbeing, including more negative first impressions, lower social support, lower social satisfaction and quality, and poorer romantic relationship quality. Furthermore, the expression of positive and general/nonspecific emotion was related to better social outcomes, while the expression of anger was associated with poorer social wellbeing. Expression of negative emotion generally was also associated with poorer social outcomes, although this effect size was very small and consisted of mixed results. These findings highlight the importance of considering the role that regulation of emotional expression can play in the development of social dysfunction and interpersonal problems.

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