Emotion Regulation's Role in Relationship Quality: Comparisons Among American and Indian Committed Romantic Couples
AdvisorButler, Emily A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractEmotion regulation involves changing the emotions that one experiences and expresses. Many studies have shown that culture influences emotion regulation and that regulating emotions can have positive or negative effects on relationship quality (English & John, 2013; Impett et al., 2011; Kalokerinos, Greenaway, & Denson, 2014; Regan, Lakhanpal, Anguiano, 2012; Su, Wei, & Tsai, 2014; Yelsma & Athappilly, 1988). Although research has studied culture, emotion regulation, and relationship quality separately, essentially no studies have combined the three factors to see how they are related. Specifically, there is very little information on whether emotion regulation plays a similar role in relationship quality across different cultures. The present study looks at daily associations between emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal, suppression, avoidance, and taking action) and emotions felt due to the partner, moderated by marriage type (American, Indian-arranged, Indian-love). I compare 128 heterosexual couples from the United States and India (in love and arranged marriages). These couples completed daily diaries once a day for seven days and reported the types of emotion regulation they used, as well as their positive or negative emotions due to their partner. I found that for Indian love and arranged couples, taking action was associated with increased positive partner induced emotions and reduced negative emotions. In contrast, taking action for U.S. couples had the opposite effect and was associated with increased negative emotions due to the partner, with no effect on positive emotions. In the U.S. couples, I also found that suppression and avoidance were associated with decreased positive partner induced emotions, but there was no effect for the Indian couples. With reappraisal, I found that high levels were associated with decreased negative partner induced emotions for all couples. Overall, results suggest that effective regulation of negative partner induced emotions can protect relationship quality, but that what constitutes effective regulation depends on cultural context.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Family Studies and Human Development