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PLoS One. 2014 May 14;9(5):e97420. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097420. eCollection 2014.

The regulation of induced depression during a frustrating situation: benefits of expressive suppression in Chinese individuals.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (SWU), Ministry of Education, and School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies from European-American cultures consistently reported that expressive suppression was associated with worse emotional consequence (e.g. depression) in comparison with acceptance. However, this conclusion may not apply to Chinese, as suppressing emotional displays to maintain relational harmony is culturally valued in East Asian countries. Thus, the present study examined the effects of suppression and acceptance on the depressive mood induced by a frustrating task in a Chinese sample.

METHOD:

Sixty-four subjects were randomly assigned to one of three instructions: suppression, acceptance or no-regulation during a frustrating arithmetic task. The experience of depressive emotion and skin conductance response (SCR) were recorded during pre-frustration baseline, frustration induction and post-frustration recovery phases, respectively.

RESULTS:

Compared with the control and acceptance instructions, suppression instruction was associated with decreased depressive experiences and smaller SCR activity during frustration. There were no significant differences between acceptance and control groups in both subjective depression and SCR activity during frustration. Moreover, the suppression group showed a better emotional recovery after the frustrating task, in comparison with the acceptance and control groups. Correlation analyses verified that SCR reactivity was a reliable index of experienced depression during the frustration.

CONCLUSIONS:

Expressive suppression is effective in reducing depressive experiences and depression-related physiological activity (SCR) when Chinese people are involved. By contrast, the acceptance of depressive emotion in Chinese people does not produce a similar regulation effect. These findings suggest that cultural context should be considered in understanding the emotional consequences of suppression and acceptance strategies.

PMID:
24827934
PMCID:
PMC4020863
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0097420
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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