The Relations of Parental Emotion Dysregulation and Emotion Socialization to Young Adults’ Emotion Dysregulation

Xiaoye Xu, Tracy L. Spinrad, Jeffrey T. Cookston, David Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Parents’ own emotion dysregulation and their socialization of emotions have been found to predict offspring’s emotion dysregulation, but little is known about how these factors interact to predict young adults’ emotion dysregulation. Thus, we aimed to examine whether each of three forms of parental responses to their offspring’s negative emotions (i.e., supportive, harsh, distressed) predicted young adults’ emotion dysregulation, particularly for young adults whose parents did not present emotional difficulties. Methods: One hundred and twenty-two young adults (Mage = 22.37 years, SDage = 2.23, age range: 18–26 years) and their primary parents were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Young adults and their primary parents reported on their own emotion dysregulation, and primary parents reported their supportive, harsh, and distressed responses to young adults’ negative emotions. Results: For distressed parental responses and supportive emotion-related socialization, the interaction effect between emotion dysregulation and their emotion socialization strategies was significantly related to young adults’ emotion dysregulation, Fs(6) = 6.70 and 6.58, ps < 0.001, for distressed responses and supportive socialization, respectively. When parents’ harsh responses to negative emotions were examined, only the main effects of harsh responses and parents’ own emotion dysregulation predicted young adults’ emotion dysregulation, F(5) = 4.55, p < 0.001. Conclusions: Results highlight that both specific socialization strategies and parents’ own regulatory characteristics are important in young adults’ emotional experience. Further, if parents are not well-regulated emotionally, changes in their responses to young adults’ negative emotions may not be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-737
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Emotion regulation
  • Parental socialization of emotions
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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