Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Kimberley Barchard

Second Committee Member

Cortney Warren

Third Committee Member

Murray Millar

Fourth Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Number of Pages

272

Abstract

In Western populations, some emotion regulation strategies have been associated with positive interpersonal abilities and mental health outcomes, while others, such as suppression, have been associated with negative physical and mental health outcomes (e.g., Eisenberg et al., 1997; Esterling, Antoni, Kumar, & Schneiderman, 1993; Gross & Muñoz, 1995; Kovacs, Joormann, & Gotlib, 2008). However, Butler, Lee, & Gross (2007) have demonstrated that the negative effects of suppression do not occur in some Eastern cultures. This inconsistency may be due to a lack of measurement equivalence across cultures.

To examine suppression in other cultural groups, researchers often adapt existing measures that are not specifically developed for the cultural group under study. When adapting a measure for use with a different cultural group, it is important to test for measurement equivalence. Although many types of measurement equivalence can be established with quantitative data analyses, conceptual equivalence cannot. Qualitative research offers a more in-depth methodological approach that can be used to ensure items on a measure have the same meaning across cultural groups. Thus far, an in-depth examination of questionnaires measuring suppression has not been conducted.

Thirty individual interviews from individuals high in individualism, high in collectivism, and those who practiced meditation were conducted. The data from these interviews were examined to explore how individuals from different cultural backgrounds suppress their emotions and interpret items measuring suppression. Results of this study indicate that while individuals from differently cultural backgrounds tend to use suppression in similar contexts, there were differences in their concepts of suppression and the strategies they used to suppress emotions, how they interpreted items measuring suppression, and how they responded to those items. In addition, eight major themes emerged: three that relate to issues with existing items designed to measure suppression (overgeneralization, ambiguous words, and presuppositions) and four that relate to concepts that are related to suppression but which are not currently being measured (the variety of suppression strategies, emotional self-awareness, intensity of suppression, temporary versus permanent suppression, and successful versus unsuccessful suppression). This paper provides specific recommendations to improve the measurement of suppression.

Keywords

Cultural psychiatry; Culture; Emotion Regulation; Emotions; Measurement; Psychiatry, Transcultural; Suppression

Disciplines

Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Social Psychology

Language

English


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