Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Gordon, Nakia S.

Second Advisor

Grych, John H.

Third Advisor

Saunders, Stephen M.

Abstract

To date, the field of emotion regulation has been held captive by inquiries into processes that unfold at an intrapersonal, or individual, level. As such, experts know a great deal about how individual choices to engage in a particular regulatory strategy are related to psychosocial outcomes. Recently the spotlight for theoretical and empirical attention has shifted to address an inarguable truth: humans are social beings. Research must break from the view of emotion regulation as intrapersonal or interpersonal, instead employing person-centered approaches that represent both levels as an interdependent system. The current study evaluated emotion regulation as a dynamic system to explore the complex regulatory processes in young-adult friendships. Pairs of female friends were recruited to model the bidirectional relationships between trait-level intra- and interpersonal regulation. Results of a latent profile analysis categorized participants as having one of four, intrapersonal emotion regulation profiles: Adaptive regulators, Accepting regulators, High Regulators, and Maladaptive regulators. These trait profiles were entered into a series of Actor-Partner Interdependence Models predicting participants’ use of trait interpersonal regulation. Findings showed that the intrapersonal regulatory profiles were not associated with one’s own, or a friend’s, use of interpersonal strategies. The friendship dyads also engaged in conversations about positive and negative shared experiences, and state-level regulatory processes were explored. Analyses indicated that participants believed their effect on regulating a friend’s emotion was diminished in negative, as compared to positive, emotional contexts. Still, self-assessments confirmed that interpersonal regulation reliably influenced state affect. In particular, the strategy of enhancing positive affect was related to emotionality, regardless of the conversation valence. This interpersonal strategy was the only one that was also implicated in how participants felt about the overall quality of their friendship; stronger friendships were observed in those who more often used up-regulation of positive affect. Thus, the current findings confirm that interpersonal regulation directed at up-regulating positive affect holds significance for how individuals feel during emotionally-charged conversations, as well as the quality they ascribe to their friendship. This is distinct from interpersonal regulation aimed at down-regulating negative affect, which appears to be less related to state affect and friendship quality.

Available for download on Thursday, February 28, 2019

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