Expressive Suppression Within Task-Oriented Dyads: The Moderating Role of Power


  • Stefania Balzarotti
  • Stefano Cesana
  • Federica Biassoni
  • Maria Rita Ciceri


Although research has so far consistently revealed that using suppression to regulate emotions has adverse personal and social effects, it has been argued that suppression may be less detrimental within non-close relationships. In the present work, we examined the effects of experimentally induced suppression on expressive behavior, emotional experience, and social outcomes within task-oriented interactions between individuals randomly assigned to high/low vs. equal power positions. Eighty-eight participants were randomly paired with a partner of the same gender (forty-four dyads). After being randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions created to manipulate suppression use and power, each dyad was asked to complete two problem-solving tasks. The results showed that the participants who were assigned to the subordinate (low-power) role and who used suppression to regulate their emotions reported more negative emotional experience than did individuals assigned to equal-power roles, as well as more inauthenticity and diminished feelings of rapport compared to subordinates who freely expressed their feelings. Moreover, we found that the use of suppression also influenced participants assigned to the manager (high-power) role, as they exhibited less positive behavior, reported less positive experience and lower feelings of rapport when interacting with a partner asked to suppress. When individuals were assigned to equal power roles, the participants instructed to use suppression reported lower levels of positive emotions than did their partners as well as higher feelings of inauthenticity compared to uninstructed participants. Overall, these findings seem to suggest that suppression may impair task-oriented interactions between high/low power individuals more than interactions between individuals sharing equal power.