The Hidden Cost of Hiding Feelings: Emotion Suppression and Inauthenticity in Social Anxiety
Gehring Reimer, Susanna
MetadataShow full item record
Social anxiety is associated with an unusually high level of negative affect, yet little is known about the strategies used by socially anxious individuals to manage and regulate their emotions. The present research examined differences in trait and state levels of expressive emotion suppression in high- and low- socially anxious participants, and explored possible causes and consequences of such suppression across two studies. Using self-reports of trait-like characteristics, Study 1 examined a theoretical model positing that individuals high in social anxiety would report greater emotion suppression than those low in social anxiety; and that authenticity, in turn, would predict diminished well-being. Study 2 used self-report measures administered following a brief social interaction in the laboratory to examine group differences in state-like emotion suppression and the effects of such differences on situational authenticity. Additionally, Study 2 investigated the contributions of state negative affect and acceptance of mood to help explain possible increases in emotion suppression in socially anxious participants. The results of Study 1 supported the hypothesis that diminished well-being in individuals with social anxiety is partially accounted for by low authenticity, which, in turn, is partially accounted for by high emotion suppression. Study 2 revealed that socially anxious participants suppressed their emotions more, and felt less authentic than, controls during the social interaction. However, state negative affect and acceptance of mood did not significantly mediate the relationship between group status and state-like emotion suppression. Implications of the present findings are discussed in terms of contemporary cognitive-behavioural theory and treatment, with indications for future directions for research.