Partners’ depressive symptoms moderate the effects of expressive suppression

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Levi R. Baker, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Suppressing emotional expressions can hide one’s needs from relationship partners and thus prevent partners from providing support. Nevertheless, suppressing expressions may help people maintain more favorable evaluations of partners who are ultimately unsupportive because people may attribute a lack of support to partners being unaware of their needs. Thus, given that depressive symptoms reduce provisions of support, people with partners experiencing depressive symptoms may remain more satisfied to the extent that they previously suppressed emotional expressions. We tested these ideas in 1 experiment, 1 cross-sectional study, and 1 longitudinal study. In Study 1, participants imagined either expressing or suppressing their emotions, imagined their partner was either supportive or unsupportive to their needs, and reported their perceptions of their partner. In Studies 2 and 3, newlywed couples reported their depressive symptoms, their marital satisfaction, and the extent to which they suppressed their emotional expressions cross-sectionally (Study 2) or every year for 2 years (Study 3). Results revealed that people with unsupportive partners or partners high in depressive symptoms made more benevolent attributions for their partners’ unsupportive behavior and remained more satisfied with their partners to the extent that they suppressed their emotional expressions; however, people with supportive partners or partners low in depressive symptoms became more dissatisfied with their partners to the extent that they suppressed their emotional expressions. These results highlight the benefits of dyadic theoretical perspectives by revealing that qualities of the partner moderate the effects of expressive suppression.

Additional Information

Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 1120-1129.
Language: English
Date: 2018
expressive suppression, close relationships, satisfaction, depression, support

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