Emotion regulation and intimacy quality: The consequences of emotional integration, emotional distancing, and suppression

Bat Hen Shahar, M. Kalman-Halevi, Guy Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study explored the quality of conflictual discussion between intimate partners and their emotional experience subsequent to emotion regulation (ER) manipulation. It differentiated between integrative ER (IER), which involves an interested stance to emotional experience, and two types of regulation aimed at minimizing emotions: emotional distancing (minimization of emotional experience) and suppression of expressive behavior (minimization of emotional expression). The sample included 140 intimate couples randomly assigned to one of four conditions (IER, distancing, suppression, and control). Following the selection of a specific relational conflict to discuss, one of the partners received manipulation instruction; the other (naïve) partner was oblivious to the instruction. During a 10-min discussion, the naïve partner’s skin conductance level was continuously assessed. The partners’ self-reported perceptions of quality of experience and discussion were measured after the discussion. In general, the results provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that taking an interest in one’s emotional experience during a conflictual discussion results in better communication and higher perceptions of discussion productivity. Furthermore, in contrast to the IER condition, in the emotional distancing condition, the naïve partners’ physiological arousal increased as the discussion progressed. Hence, the results support the hypothesis that taking an interest in and accepting one’s negative emotions promote adaptive communication in conflictual discussions between intimate partners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3343-3361
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume36
Issue number11-12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Distancing
  • emotion-regulation
  • integration
  • intimacy
  • self-determination theory
  • suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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