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《Journal of Psychological Science》 2018-06
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The Association between Ambivalence over Emotion Expression and Psychological Symptoms in Cross-Cultural Studies: A Moderated Mediation Model

Chang Baorui;Fang Jiandong;Faculty of Education,Guangxi Normal University;Center for Mental Health Education of College students,Guangxi Normal University;  
Ambivalence over emotional expression(AEE) refers to the conflict between the desire to express emotion and the fear of the consequences of such expression(King Emmons, 1990). The adverse effects of AEE on the health and social relationships of individuals in Caucasian populations have been well documented. However, unlike American culture, which encourages expressing emotion directly, Chinese culture advocates keeping one's countenance. So, it is natural to wonder whether culture changes the relationship between "swallowing back the words on the tip of one's tongue", associated with AEE, and psychological symptoms? Nevertheless, no studies have made efforts to explore how AEE functions in Chinese culture. This study proposes that social constraint may play a mediating role between AEE and psychological symptoms, and there is relevant evidence to support this proposal. For example, individuals with higher AEE tend to report more perceived social constraint(Lepore, Silver, Wortman, Wayment, 1996), whereas those who perceive higher social constraint are likely to perform psychologically less healthy(Adams, Winger, Mosher, 2015). However, most of these studies have been conducted in western cultures. Western societies, such as the United States, encourage individuals to express their emotions freely. AEE therefore does not conform to western cultural norms. However, not all cultures-that of China, for exampleencourage the free expression of emotions. This leads us to ask: can AEE still lead to an increase in psychological symptoms in a Chinese cultural background? Furthermore, in the Chinese context, does social constraint play the same moderating role between AEE and psychological symptoms?Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the association between AEE and psychological symptoms, as well as the mediating effect of social constraint and the moderating effect of cultural norms between them. This study conducted a comparative analysis between 549 questionnaires from the United States(culture of encouraging emotional expression) and 509 questionnaires from China(culture of suppressing emotional expression). The survey research method used the inventories from the Ambivalence over Emotional Expression Questionnaire(AEQ), the Social Constraint Scale(SCS), and the Brief Symptoms Inventory(BSI). The current study verified the moderating role of cultural norms. Specifically, the adverse effects of AEE on psychological symptoms and social constraint were found in both of the two cultures. The moderated mediation model further showed that cultural norms moderated the mediation model of AEE, social constraint, and psychological symptoms. In summary, the present study constructed a moderated mediation model of social constraint and cultural norms to reveal the mechanism underlying the relationship between AEE and psychological symptoms, which could contribute to a better understanding of how and when AEE increased the risk of psychological symptoms. Furthermore, it suggested that early intervention aiming to diminish the negative effects of AEE could start with encouraging an individual to write expressively in a safe atmosphere. Secondly, participating in supportive expression groups could also reduce social constraints. Finally, the paper discussed the significance of research concerning AEE and cultural norms, as well as the future direction of research in this area.
【Fund】: 2015年广西师范大学德育科研基金项目(创新创业教育类)“大学生创业心理资本的提升策略研究”;; 2017年广西高等教育本科教学改革工程立项项目(2017JGB156);; 2018年广西高校大学生思想政治教育理论与实践研究重点课题(2018MSZ012);; 全国教育科学“十二五”规划2015年度教育部重点课题(DBA150237)的资助
【CateGory Index】: B842.6
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