Cultural differences in emotion regulation during self-reflection on negative personal experiences

William Tsai, Anna S. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reflecting on negative personal experiences has implications for mood that may vary as a function of specific domains (e.g., achievement vs. interpersonal) and cultural orientation (e.g., interdependence vs. independence). This study investigated cultural differences in the social-cognitive and affective processes undertaken as Easterners and Westerners reflected on negative interpersonal and performance experiences. One hundred Asian Americans and 92 European-American college students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: interpersonal rejection, achievement failure, or a control condition. Results revealed that Asian Americans experienced greater distress than European Americans after self-reflecting over a failed interpersonal experience, suggesting cultural sensitivity in the relational domain. Consistent with theoretical predictions, analysis of the social cognitive and affective processes that participants engaged in during self-reflection provided some evidence that self-enhancement may buffer distress for European Americans, while emotion suppression may be adaptive for Asian Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-429
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Mood
  • Negative self-reflection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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