An Exploratory Study of Novel Measures to Capture Situational Expressive Suppression
Expressive suppression is widely believed to be a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy due to its association with poor social functioning. Nonetheless, controlling when and how to express emotions is also the hallmark of competent emotion regulation. However, we do not have a clear understanding of how spontaneously-occurring expressive suppression use during social interactions impacts social functioning. Therefore, the current study tested three novel measures of situational expressive suppression as predictors of relationship quality. Adolescents (N = 184) and their mothers engaged in an emotional discussion in the lab. Adolescents’ expressive suppression was measured through self-report, observation, and an interaction between feelings and expression (i.e., high feelings and low expression indicating suppression), to predict mothers’ ratings of relationship closeness. The observation and interaction approaches predicted lower relationship quality. However, the self-report measures did not predict relationship quality, and there was minimal concordance among all novel measures. I discuss the possibility of expressive suppression being observable and possible future directions to further develop the novel measures to better capture expressive suppression.