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The relations among emotion regulation strategies, self-concept, and adolescents' problem behaviors

Dissertation
Author: Manying Hsieh
Abstract:
The processes mediating the relations between emotion regulation and problem behaviors have not been studied. Expressive suppression refers to an emotion regulation strategy that involves efforts to inhibit one's manifestations of internal emotional states, whereas cognitive reappraisal refers to a strategy to deal with emotions by changing how one thinks about a situation. Two mediated models were tested using structural equation modeling hypothesizing that cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression have indirect effects on internalizing and externalizing problems. Self-concept was hypothesized to mediate the relations between emotion regulation and internalizing and externalizing problems. Both models predicting internalizing and externalizing problems fit adequately. Expressive suppression was significantly associated with lower self-concept, whereas cognitive reappraisal was significantly associated with higher self-concept. Self-concept was negatively linked to adolescents' internalizing and externalizing problems. Bootstrap methodology was used to test for the presence of mediation. The bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals provided evidence that self-concept is a mediator between emotion regulation strategies and internalizing and externalizing problems.

Table of Contents Chapter One: Introduction…………………………….…………………………………1 Rationale............................................................................................................................2 Purpose..............................................................................................................................3 Chapter Two: Literature Review.......................................................................................5 Definitions of Emotion Regulation...................................................................................5 Development of Emotion Regulation...............................................................................7 The Contexts of Emotion Regulation...............................................................................8 The Process of Emotion Regulation……………………………………………………9 The Cognitive Model of Emotion Regulation ……………………………………10 Gross’ Model for Emotion Regulation……………………………………………11 Adolescents’ Emotion Regulation Strategies and Problem Behaviors…………………12 Internalizing Problems…...………………….…………………….………………13 Externalizing Problems..…….……………………….……………………………15 Self-concept in Adolescence……………………………………………………………18 Summary..........................................................................................................................20 Hypotheses......................................................................................................................21 Analysis………………………………………………………………………………...24

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Definition of Terms...…..………………………………………………………………29 Chapter Three: Method…………………...……………………………………………30 Participants and Procedures……………………………………………………………30 Measures…………………………………………………………….…………………35 Adolescents’ Emotion Regulation Strategies…………………………………….35 Student Report of Adolescents’ Problem Behaviors..............................................36 Teacher Report of Adolescents’ Problem Behaviors…………………………….37 Adolescents’ Self-concept…………………………………….………………….38 Chapter Four: Results.....................................................................................................40 Emotion Regulation, Self Concept, and Internalizing Problems....................................43 Emotion Regulation, Self Concept, and Externalizing Problems...................................50 Improving the Fit of the Indirect Models of Internalizing and Externalizing Problem Behaviors.......................................................................................................................55 Revised the Indirect Model of Internalizing Problem Behaviors……….……….56 Revised the Indirect Model of Externalizing Problem Behaviors……….………57 Chapter Five: Discussion……………………………………………………..…….…61 Cognitive Reappraisal as an Adaptive Strategy……………………….…….………...62 Self-concept as a Mediator……………………………………………….….………...62

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Limitations of the Study………………………………………………………………65 References…………………………………………………………………………….68 Appendix A. Cover Letter for Parental Consent Form……………………………….83 Appendix B. Parental Consent Form…………………………………………………84 Appendix C. Student Assent Form…………………………………………………...86 Appendix D. Demographic Questionnaire…………………………….……………...88 Appendix E. Student Questionnaire………………………………..…………………89 Appendix F. Cover Letter for Teacher Consent Form………………..………………92 Appendix G. Teacher Consent Form…………………………………..……………..93 Appendix H. Teacher Questionnaire…………………………………..……………..95 Appendix I. The Letter for School Principals………………………..………………96 Appendix J. The Back Translation of the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) and the Problem Behaviors Subscales of Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)…………………………………………………………………..97

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List of Tables 1. The Demographic Characteristics of the Sample (N = 438) …………………………34 2. Internal Consistency Reliability………………………………………………………40 3. Means, Standard Deviations (SD), Ranges, and Bivariate Correlations for All Variables in the Models (N = 438)…………………………………………………………………41 4. Fit Indices………………………………………………………………….………….46 5. Fit Indices for the Revised Indirect-effects Models…………………….…………….58 6. Confidence Limits for the Mediated Effects…………………………….……………58

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List of Figures 1. The cognitive model of emotion regulation, proposed by Philippot, Baeyens, Douilliez and Francart………………………………………………………………………….………….11 2. The model 1: Self-concept is hypothesized to mediate the relations between emotion regulation strategies and adolescents' internalizing problem behaviors………….…………23 3. The model 2: Self-concept is hypothesized to mediate the relations between emotion regulation strategies and adolescents' externalizing problem behaviors……………………23 4. The full-effects model for internalizing problem behaviors...………………………………26 5. The direct-effects models for internalizing problem behaviors.…………….………………26 6. The indirect-effects models for internalizing problem behaviors…..………………………27 7. The full-effects model for externalizing problem behaviors………….……………………27 8. The direct-effects models for externalizing problem behaviors……………………………28 9. The indirect-effects models for externalizing problem behaviors………………………….28 10. The full-effects model of internalizing problem behaviors………………….……………...47 11. The direct-effects model of internalizing problem behaviors………………………………48 12. The indirect-effects model of internalizing problem behaviors…………………………….49 13. The full-effects model of externalizing problem behaviors………………………………...53 14. The direct-effects model of externalizing problem behaviors…..…………….……………54

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15. The indirect-effects model of externalizing problem behaviors………………….…………55 16. The revised indirect-effects model for adolescents’ internalizing problem behaviors……...59 17. The revised indirect-effects model for adolescents’ externalizing problem behaviors……...60

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Chapter One: Introduction Our lives are saturated with a variety of emotions, and this fact raises some very important questions. For instance, what strategies of emotion regulation are more adaptive than others? Why are they adaptive or harmful? Most of the time, we may need to control, deny, mask or alter emotions in some way for some social reasons. Emotion regulation refers to the modification of emotional reactions in the emotion-generative process or its manifestation in behavior (Campos, Frankel & Camras, 2004). Although there is considerable debate and discussion on the definitions of emotion regulation (Cole, Martin & Dennis, 2004), knowledge of emotion regulation has expanded rapidly in the past decade, yielding a better understanding of the major factors that influence our emotional experience and expression. Regulating emotions is a set of complex skills which is necessary for effective adaptation and successful social negotiation in everyday life (Macklem, 2008). Thompson (1994) indicated that the capacity for emotion regulation significantly influences individual emotion experience. Shapiro (2000) suggested that emotion regulation is a key component of resilience. Emotion regulation plays an important role in social functioning, interpersonal relationships, personality formation, problem solving, stress management, and career success. Emotion regulation is related to academic performance (Gumora & Arsenio, 2002), social functioning (Brackett, Rivers, Shiffman, Lerner & Salovey, 2006), adjustment (Matsumoto, 2002), health

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(Salovey, 2006), and success and happiness (Baumeister, Heatherton & Tice 1994). In this sense, the capacity of emotion regulation is the foundation for more adaptive social functioning and is critical for adolescents’ mental health. Interestingly, some studies also showed that emotion regulation skills can be improved through systematic practices (Macklem, 2008; Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). Problem behaviors during adolescence can be generally classified as internalizing or externalizing problems, and this approach has received a great deal of empirical support (Achenbach, Howell, Quay & Conners, 1991). Internalizing problem behaviors refer to problem behaviors that are characterized as behaviorally passive, directed inward or toward the individual, such as withdrawal, anxiety, depression, and somatic concerns (Achenbach & Edeibrock, 1978; Achenbach, 1982, 1991), and these behaviors are not easily observable. In contrast, externalizing problem behaviors refer to problem behaviors that are characterized as outward-directed or undercontrolled behaviors, such as aggression, anti-social behaviors and opposition (Achenbach, 1982, 1991; Serafica & Vargas, 2006), and these behaviors are usually easily observable. Rationale Recent studies have shown that some specific emotion regulation weaknesses may be associated with internalizing disorders (Macklem, 2007). It was also suggested that children with externalizing problems might have a particular pattern of emotion regulation deficits (Mullin &

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Hinshaw, 2007). Interestingly, recent research of emotion regulation strategy suggests that there is an alternative pathway that might minimize the potential negative effects of emotional events or maximize possible happiness and well-being (Gross, 1998a; 2001; Garnefski, Koopman, Kraaij, & Ten Cate, 2009). In the United States, many educational and psychological experts have begun to promote social-emotional learning programs in schools. For example, the Illinois State Board of Education has recognized the importance of social-emotional development for young children and adolescents and adopted student learning standards in social and emotional learning in 2004. From this perspective, the applicability of emotion regulation research seems appealing and far-reaching. Further studies in emotion regulation strategies may potentially help educators, school specialists, parents, and child care professionals by providing them with useful information about general processes of emotion regulation and determining better adaptive emotion regulation strategies for adolescents. Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore whether self-concept mediates the relations between emotion regulation strategies and internalizing and externalizing problems. Self-concept is defined as how one thinks about and characterizes oneself (Steinberg, 2005). Although the importance of self-concept during adolescence have been recognized by psychologists for a long time, no research has examined the processes mediating the relations between emotion regulation

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strategies and problem behavior. Understanding how adolescents' self-concept mediates the relations between emotion regulation strategies and problem behaviors may aid teachers or clinicians who are required to deal with or develop social-emotional programs for adolescents with problem behaviors.

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Chapter Two: Literature Review The literature review begins with a discussion of the definitions of emotion regulation. Moreover, in order to offer a conceptual framework of emotion regulation, the process, the contexts, and the development of emotion regulation are explored. The model of emotion regulation, self-concept, and internalizing and externalizing problems tested in the study is introduced. Further, the review examined previous research on the relations between emotion regulation strategies, self-concept, and problem behaviors in adolescence. Definitions of Emotion Regulation Earlier studies have found that emotion regulation is relevant to job performance (Bagozzi, Verbeke & Gavino, 2003), academic performance (Gumora & Arsenio, 2002), social functioning (Brackett et al., 2006), memory performance (Bonanno, Papa, Lalande, Westphal & Coifman, 2004) and stress management (Cummings, Pellegrini, Notarius & Cummings, 1989). Researchers have long recognized the importance of emotional socialization in mental health and social adaptation. However, although emotion regulation has been the interest in the discipline of psychology, Thompson (1994) indicated that most studies in emotion regulation often held an implicit theory of emotion regulation and lacked a clear definition of the construct. There is enormous diversity in the definitions of emotion regulation. Some studies define emotion regulation by focusing on its process. For example, Thompson (1994) defined emotion

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regulation as "the extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions to accomplish one’s goals” (p. 27). Cicchetti, Ganiban and Barnett (1991) defined emotion regulation as involving "the intra- and extra-organismic factors by which emotional arousal could be redirected, controlled, modulated, and modified to enable an individual to function adaptively in emotionally arousing situations" (p. 15). In a similar manner, Beer (2007) defined emotion regulation as “a device of control processes aimed at manipulating when, where, how, and which emotion we experience and express” (p. 69). Gross (1998b) also defined emotion regulation as “a process by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express these emotions” (p. 275). Some studies consider emotion regulation as a kind of capacity. For example, Kopp (1989) defined emotion regulation as the capacity to modulate strong negative emotions in accordance with the demands of the situations. Brenner and Salovey (1997) defined emotion regulation as the capacity to manage one's emotional reactivity. After reviewing the definitional, methodological, and analytical meaning of emotion regulation, Bridges, Denham and Ganiban (2004) suggested that adaptive emotion regulation involves the ability to experience and express emotions in ways to meet important goals.

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Overall, Thompson (1994) suggested several characteristics of emotional regulation, after reviewing the literature on emotion regulation. First, emotion regulation has its functions. Second, emotion regulation maintains, enhances, inhibits or subdues emotional arousals. Third, emotion regulation affects persistence, the range or liability, and other qualitative features of emotional responding. In other words, emotion regulation is a process aimed to manage arousal states and achieve individual goals (Kopp & Neufeld, 2003). The process of emotion regulation may involve several system levels, such as physiological, attentional, cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal levels, and this regulation takes place at every level of the emotion-generative process (Southam-Gerow & Kendallb, 2002). Development of Emotion Regulation Emotion regulation skills emerge early in infancy and toddlerhood. During the first three months of life, children begin to develop some simple self-soothing skills, such as sucking and signaling discomfort (Kopp, 1982; Rothbart, Ziaie & O’Boyle, 1992). During the preschool period, children develop skills and abilities which allow them to control their emotions and behavior for successful social adaptation (Macklem, 2007). From three to six years of age, children begin to develop internal and external strategies for regulating emotions as well as emotional knowledge (Macklem, 2007). Moreover, the development of emotion regulation in childhood is associated with parents' socialization (Garner, Jones, Gaddy & Rennie, 1997),

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children's temperament (Dennis, 2006), children's cognitive development, and social development (Cole, Michel & Teti, 1994). From early childhood to early adolescence, children's negative emotional intensity and emotionality decrease with age, and children's emotion regulation skills improve over time (Murphy, Eisenberg, Fabes, Shepard & Guthrie, 1999). From twelve to eighteen years of age, children's emotion regulation becomes more differentiated and is more influenced by contextual factors (Zeman, Cassano, Perry-Parrish, & Stegall, 2006). Moreover, adolescents become more aware of the interpersonal consequences for a particular display of emotion (Zeman, et al., 2006). Given that early adolescents often engage in imaginative audience behavior (Elkind & Bowen, 1979) and often overestimate the extent to which others notice their behavior (Erikson, 1963; Harter, 1999), Zeman and his colleagues (2006) suggested that adolescents’ experience of self-conscious emotions, such as pride, shame, guilt, and embarrassment, may increase in frequency and intensity. Taken together, it was suggested that emotion regulation may be not a stable set of behaviors at least during early childhood (Kopp & Neufeld, 2003) and early adolescence (Murphy, et al., 1999). These findings suggest that emotion regulation skills may change over time. The Contexts of Emotion Regulation

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Current theories of emotion regulation often emphasize the adaptive value of emotion (Gross, 1998a; 1998b). Thompson (1994) suggested that emotional responses should be flexible and responsive to situational cues in order to adapt to changes and environmental shifts. According to Thompson, optimal emotion regulation is not likely to be stereotypical and rigid, but constantly interactive with social environments. Moreover, it is also important to note that adaptive emotion regulatory strategies must be considered contextually bound (Southam-Gerow & Kendallb, 2002). For example, Bridges and Grolnick (1998) suggested that what is optimal emotion regulation may be defined very differently by children who live in low-income households, with abusive parents or with substance-abusing parents. Moreover, other contextual factors, such as cultural and gender variables, may also affect the ways in which individuals express, experience and regulate their emotions (Friedlmeier & Trommsdorff, 1999). Matsumoto (1990) also indicated that cultures do not always share the same beliefs about emotion expression and emotion regulation. In this sense, contextual variables may be also an important issue to consider while studying emotion regulation. The Process of Emotion Regulation In order to gain an understanding of the processes of emotion regulation, numerous studies have been conducted to explore how people regulate their emotions in everyday life. Beer (2007)

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also suggested that emotional regulation could occur in a conscious or an unconscious, automatic way. In the following section, two models related to emotion regulation will be introduced. The Cognitive Model of Emotion Regulation Philippot, Baeyens, Douilliez and Francart (2004) suggested that emotion regulation may be not a simple phenomenon but a process consisting of several related systems: perception, attention, memory, decision making, and consciousness (see Figure 1). For instance, one's perception of loss may trigger an emotional response. Although one can perceive a variety of information from various sources, he or she usually selectively pays attention to only a particular part of information. Moreover, the memory of one’s past experiences, namely cognitive schemas, also influence human affective behavior and affect decision making. Actively making decisions and taking actions could also regulate emotions and minimize the potential negative effects of events. In addition, Philippot and his colleagues also recognized the importance of the reflexive consciousness of emotional experience in the whole process of emotion regulation. Overall, Philippot and his colleagues’ model offers a foundation for understanding the process of emotion regulation.

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Figure 1. The cognitive model of emotion regulation, proposed by Philippot, Baeyens, Douilliez and Francart.

Gross’ Model of Emotion Regulation Gross (2001) carefully examined how individuals experience, control, influence and express their emotions and proposed the process model of emotion regulation. Gross suggested that emotional response tendencies involve experiential, behavioral, and physiological systems, and could be modulated in various ways. According to Gross (2001), emotional responses can be regulated at five points: situation selection, situation modification, attentional deployment, cognitive change, and response modulation. Gross (2001) argued that an emotional response begins with an evaluation of emotional cues which trigger a set of response tendencies. Situation selection refers to a process in which a

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person actively chooses to be in a situation in order to regulate emotions (Gross & John, 2003). Situation modification refers to modifying existing situations to have different levels of emotions. Deployment of attention involves shifting attention to something else. Cognitive change, also known as cognitive reappraisal in Gross’ subsequent studies, refers to thinking about the situation in another way to regulate emotions. Response modulation, also known as expressive suppression in Gross’ subsequent studies, involves efforts to inhibit ongoing behavioral expression. Similarly, Parrott (1993) also suggested that emotion can be enhanced (up-regulated) or reduced (down-regulated). Taken together, Gross’ model brings us to the notion that there may be some strategies that serve to decrease, maintain, or increase negative and positive emotions. Adolescents’ Emotion Regulation Strategies and Problem Behaviors Despite the importance of emotion regulation in mental health, researchers have only recently begun to explore the relations between emotion regulation strategies and internalizing and externalizing problems. Two regulation strategies—expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal—are commonly used to regulate emotions in everyday life. According to Gross’s (2002) definitions, the expressive suppression strategy involves efforts to inhibit one's manifestations of internal emotional states, whereas the cognitive reappraisal strategy involves changing how we think about a situation to regulate the emotional impact of the events. Because

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how people regulate emotions may be related to problem behaviors, studies have examined whether one of the strategies predicts fewer problems. Internalizing Problems Several studies have found links between different emotion regulation strategies and internalizing problems. Gross (1998b) conducted an experiment with undergraduate students to explore the psychological consequences of using different emotion regulation strategies. Gross randomly assigned a group of participants to hide their emotional reactions so that other people could not tell how they feel about the negative emotion-eliciting film that they watched in the experiment. Gross asked another group of participants to think about the same film in a way so that they would feel nothing. The result showed that both participants assigned to the suppression and reappraisal groups were effective in reducing emotion expression, compared with the control group. Interestingly, while suppression strategies only reduced negative behavioral expression, reappraisal decreased not only behavioral expression but also the negative experience about the film. Similarly, Gross and Levenson (1997) also found that suppression could decrease the experience of positive emotions. Moreover, Campbell-Sills, Barlow, Brown and Hofmann (2006) found that use of suppression predicted not only increased subjective negative emotion but also increased heart rate in the experiment of watching an emotion-provoking film.

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Other studies have found that emotional suppression strategies may be less adaptive for healthy development during adolescence. Adolescence represents a particular time of risk for the onset of depression, especially among girls. Gross and John (2003) found that undergraduate students typically using suppression emotion strategies tended to have more depressive symptoms, whereas undergraduate students habitually using reappraisal strategies tended to have fewer depressive symptoms. This trend is true at least across three measures of depressive symptoms—the Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelsohn, Mock & Erbaugh, 1961), the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (Radloff, 1977), and the Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung, 1965). Moreover, Moore and his colleagues (2008) conducted a study with undergraduate students and also found that expressive suppression was associated with higher self-reported stress-related symptoms, whereas cognitive reappraisal was associated with lower depression. In this sense, it is suggested that using suppression strategies might be linked to increased depressive and anxiety symptoms. Moreover, Gross and John (2003) found that undergraduate students who habitually use suppression tended to have interpersonal relationships which were not so emotionally close and have lower perceived social support, while social support was often considered as an important protective factor against the onset of depression (McFarlane, Bellissimo, Norman & Lange, 1994; Lin, Ye & Ensel, 1999). These findings also suggested that suppression might be a less adaptive strategy for regulating emotion.

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In addition, poor emotion regulation skills can contribute to depression. For example, Silk, Steinberg and Morris (2003) found that 7th- and 10th-grade adolescents who reported less effective emotion regulation strategies also reported more depressive symptoms. Zeman, Shipman and Suveg (2002) conducted a study with 121 boys aged from 10 to12 years and found that dysregulation of negative emotion, especially anger and sadness, was associated with internalizing symptoms. Considering that depressed children often use strategies that serve to maintain their negative affective states or fail to maintain their positive affect (Garber, Braafladt and Zeman, 1991), Yap, Allen and Sheeber (2007) indicated that deficits in adolescents’ emotion regulation capacities may also play a key role in the heightened risk of depression in adolescence. Externalizing Problems Different strategies of emotion regulation also predict externalizing problems. Magar, Phillips and Hosie (2008) investigated the links between emotion regulation strategies and undergraduate students’ risky activities, and found that suppression was associated with hypothetical risk-taking, whereas reappraisal was associated with less participation in problem behaviors (e.g. fighting, arguing). Moreover, suppression was associated with a younger age at which undergraduate students had their first cigarette, whereas reappraisal was associated with an older age. The study also found that individuals reporting habitual use of reappraisal were

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more common amongst non-smokers than smokers. Therefore, Magar and his colleagues suggested that individual differences in the use of emotion regulation strategies might explain undergraduate students’ engagement in risky activities. A considerable body of studies has found that poor emotion regulation is related to conduct problems in children and adolescents (Mullin & Hinshaw, 2007). For example, Gilliom, Shaw, Beck, Schonberg and Lukon (2002) observed preschool boys’ emotion regulation strategies during frustration tasks and found that boys with poor anger regulation skills reported more externalizing behavior problems, whereas boys having effective anger regulation skills reported fewer externalizing behavior problems 3 years later. Izard, Youngstrom, Fine, Mostow and Trentacosta (2006) found that dysregulation of anger was predictive of externalizing problem behaviors, whereas Zeman, Shipman and Suveg (2002) found that adaptive emotion regulation was negatively associated with both internalizing and externalizing symptoms for boys aged from 10 to12 years. Kostiuk and Fouts (2002) conducted a study in a qualitative approach and found that girls aged 13-14 years with conduct problems tended to have fewer strategies for regulating negative emotions in themselves and others. Magar, Phillips and Hosie (2008) also indicated that less adaptive emotion regulation styles predicted greater undergraduate students’ participation in risky behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol induced problems. Interestingly, children who consistently exhibited aggressive behaviors often reported particular sociocognitive

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bias that might be related to their poor emotion regulation and misinterpretation of social information (Crick & Dodge, 1994). These findings suggested that deficits in emotion regulation may play an important role in the development of externalizing problem behaviors (Izard et al., 2006). Of the above studies, Gross and John's (2003) study, Moore and his colleagues' (2008) study and Magar, Phillips and Hosie's (2008) study are most related to the current study. However, Gross and John (2003) only investigated the impacts of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal on undergraduate students' emotion experience, emotion expression, interpersonal functioning and well-being in United States. Moore and his colleagues (2008) investigated whether expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal associated with stress-related symptoms using an American undergraduate sample. Magar, Phillips and Hosie (2008) investigated whether expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal are associated with undergraduate students' risky activities using a Scotland sample. Although all of these three studies investigated the impacts of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal and used Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, none of them has focused on both internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors. All of these three studies were done with undergraduate students, but none of them were done with junior-high adolescents. Moreover, none of the above studies were conducted using Asian samples. The current study, focusing on the use of

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expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal and junior-high adolescents' internalizing and externalizing problems, has never been done before. Self-Concept in Adolescence Related to adolescent emotion regulation and internalizing and externalizing problems is the development of self-concept in adolescence. Self-concept is defined as how one thinks about and characterizes oneself (Steinberg, 2005). Adolescence is a period at which the development of a sense of self is of crucial importance (Sebastian, Burnett & Blakemore, 2008). Sebastian and his colleagues (2008) suggested two main ways to build up a self-concept—based on one's appraisals of past experience or based on one's judgments of how he or she is viewed by others. Another often-cited theory for adolescent behavior is adolescent egocentrism which includes two constructs—imaginary audience and personal fable (Elkind, 1967). The imaginary audience refers to the tendency of adolescents to falsely assume that others are always making comparisons and judgments about them. The personal fable refers to the idea that adolescents often hold a belief that they are special, unique, and invulnerable. Taken together, Elkind's theory of adolescent egocentrism suggested that teenagers tend to have a heightened sense of self uniqueness and self awareness. In this sense, these studies suggested that during or after puberty, adolescents become increasingly self-conscious and aware of the way they are seen and judged by others (Parker, Rubin, Erath, Wojslawowicz & Buskirk, 2006; Vartanian, 2000).

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Moreover, having a negative self-concept in adolescence is linked to more internalizing and externalizing behaviors (Ybrandt, 2008), whereas having a positive self-concept is a protective factor against common problem behaviors (Hughes, Cavell & Grossman, 1997). However, for aggressive children, a highly positive self-concept is viewed as not a protective factor but a defensive posture against added risks (Hughes, Cavell & Grossman, 1997). Phillips (2006) suggested that adolescent self-concept changes over time and guides their behavior. Harter (1990) suggested that increasing stability in self-concept during adolescence may reflect an increasingly more integrated and consistent sense of self in adolescents. Sebastian and his colleagues (2008) investigated adolescents’ self-concept with a sample of 518 high school students over a two-year period and found that self-concept was the best predictor of an adolescent’s overall sense of self-worth. From this perspective, a person's self-concept, which is influenced by an individual's history, a sense of competency, and personal goals, may be an important behavioral determinant that could guide an adolescent’s actions. Although psychologists have long recognized the importance of self-concept during adolescence, there is no research has examined the impacts of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal on self-concept. Considering adolescents are particularly concerned about how they are viewed and evaluated by others, taking account of self-concept may help researchers to explain why emotion regulation could be adaptive or harmful. For example, some

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adolescents may pretend they are okay when they are not, because they dislike losing face or looking bad, and this denial may lead to suppression. On the other hand, cognitive reappraisal may require accepting the things that they cannot change, and this acceptance may lead to a better understanding of the situation, better adjustment and higher self-concept. In addition, having a negative self-concept was also found to be linked to higher rates of adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems (Ybrandt, 2008). In this sense, investigating the role of self-concept in emotion regulation may help people to understand why individuals using different emotion regulation strategies may have different psychological outcomes. Summary Overall, most studies of emotion regulation focused on children and undergraduate students, but only few of them focused on young adolescents. In addition, most studies of emotion regulation strategies were conducted within a Western cultural context. There is still a lack of understanding on whether the results will be the same for adolescents in an Asian culture where children are usually taught to be polite, shy, humble, and deferential (Kramer, Kwong, Lee & Chung, 2002). Considering that culture may affect how people experience, interpret, and respond to emotional events, the relations between adolescents’ emotion regulation strategies and problem behaviors in Taiwan might be different from those in the United States.

Full document contains 115 pages
Abstract: The processes mediating the relations between emotion regulation and problem behaviors have not been studied. Expressive suppression refers to an emotion regulation strategy that involves efforts to inhibit one's manifestations of internal emotional states, whereas cognitive reappraisal refers to a strategy to deal with emotions by changing how one thinks about a situation. Two mediated models were tested using structural equation modeling hypothesizing that cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression have indirect effects on internalizing and externalizing problems. Self-concept was hypothesized to mediate the relations between emotion regulation and internalizing and externalizing problems. Both models predicting internalizing and externalizing problems fit adequately. Expressive suppression was significantly associated with lower self-concept, whereas cognitive reappraisal was significantly associated with higher self-concept. Self-concept was negatively linked to adolescents' internalizing and externalizing problems. Bootstrap methodology was used to test for the presence of mediation. The bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals provided evidence that self-concept is a mediator between emotion regulation strategies and internalizing and externalizing problems.