Abstract

Although people with high interdependent self-construal (SC) are often assumed to be competent in emotion suppression, direct evidence is missing. We tested whether interdependent SC would predict the ability to down-regulate emotional arousal. Americans of both East Asian and European descent were shown a series of pictures. They were instructed to suppress or attend to their emotions. Their electroencephalogram was recorded and analyzed. The late positive potential (LPP) evoked by unpleasant (vs. neutral) pictures (a marker of emotional arousal) was reduced in the suppress (vs. attend) condition. This effect of emotion suppression was more pronounced for those high in interdependent SC than for those low in it. Curiously, the resulting valence x condition x interdependent SC interaction was robust among East Asians, but not European Americans. The 4-way interaction involving culture was statistically significant. Our work suggests that the purported link between interdependent SC and emotion suppression may be culture-bound.

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