Cardiovascular costs of emotion suppression cross ethnic lines

Nicole Roberts, Robert W. Levenson, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Previous research has shown that inhibiting emotion-expressive behavior (emotion suppression) leads to increased sympathetic activation of the cardiovascular system [Gross, J.J. and Levenson, R.W. (1993). Emotional suppression: physiology, self-report, and expressive behavior. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 64(6), 970-986]. Ethnic differences have been reported in how frequently suppression is used as an emotion regulation strategy [Gross, J.J. and John, O. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 85(2), 348-362]; however, it remains unknown whether there are ethnic differences in the physiological consequences of suppression. To test this, 168 participants from four ethnic groups (African American, Chinese American, European American, Mexican American) watched a disgust-eliciting film clip; half were instructed to suppress their emotions and half simply watched the film. Consistent with previous research, suppression was associated with decreased facial behavior, increased cardiovascular activation, and no impact on subjective emotional experience. Ethnicity failed to moderate these effects, indicating the generality of the cardiovascular consequences of emotion suppression across ethnic background.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Emotion
  • Ethnicity
  • Physiology
  • Suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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