The effects of emotional expression inhibition in Russians
Past research done in Russian samples demonstrated similar correlations between expressive suppression and the Big Five traits to those found in the United States and in European countries. In Russia, expressive suppression showed a positive association with Conscientiousness and was not related to Agreeableness. Just like in other countries with western cultural values, expressive suppression of negative emotions showed an inverse correlation with psychological well-being, whereas the suppression of positive emotion was not related to well-being. In the present study, we replicated the classical experiment by J. Gross and R. Levenson in a Russian sample (N = 59), aiming to assess the effects of inhibiting positive and negative emotions. Emotions (amusement, sadness, and neutral state) were induced using validated video clips accompanied by an instruction to view normally or with expressive suppression. Under the expressive suppression condition Russians showed: (1) lower activity of cheek muscles, while the forehead muscles toughened under the expressive suppression of amusement and relaxed under the expressive suppression of sadness; (2) the intensity of target emotion did not change, while the expressive suppression of
amusement enhanced the background negative emotions, and the expressive suppression of sadness enhanced background positive emotions; (3) the sympathetic activation of the electrodermal and cardiovascular systems did not change. Thus, unlike Americans, for Russians expressive suppression appears to be a typical strategy of emotional regulation that does not cause a decrease in amusement selfreports or additional activation of the sympathetic nervous system.