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J Couns Psychol. 2013 Oct;60(4):625-33. doi: 10.1037/a0033413. Epub 2013 Aug 26.

Suppression and interpersonal harmony: a cross-cultural comparison between Chinese and European Americans.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Iowa State University.

Abstract

Based on Markus and Kitayama's (1991) theory, this study was conducted to examine whether the association between emotional suppression and interpersonal harmony would be moderated by cultural group (i.e., Chinese and European Americans) and an Asian cultural value (i.e., emotional self-control). A total of 451 college students (205 Chinese and 246 European Americans) participated in this study. As expected, results indicated that the association between emotional suppression and interpersonal harmony was significantly positive for Chinese but not significant for European Americans. Similarly, when emotional self-control was examined as a moderator, the results still confirmed our hypotheses. That is, the association between emotional suppression and interpersonal harmony was significantly positive for those with stronger endorsement of emotional self-control but not for those with weaker endorsement of emotional self-control. Furthermore, we examined whether the above results could be replicated when forbearance (a construct similar to suppression) and distress disclosure (a construct opposite to suppression) were examined. The results showed the same pattern for forbearance and distress disclosure when cultural group or emotional self-control served as the moderator. The convergence of findings increased the robustness of our results. Finally, our data suggest that individuals from Eastern, interdependent cultures (e.g., Chinese) tend to value emotional suppression to preserve interpersonal harmony; individuals from Western, independent cultures may or may not necessarily suppress their emotions for this purpose. A comprehensive understanding of the different meanings of a specific strategy (i.e., emotional suppression) in different cultural contexts is important to promote effective cross-cultural counseling.

PMID:
23978268
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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