Emotion Regulation and Perceptions of Hostile and Constructive Criticism in Romantic Relationships

  • Klein S
  • Renshaw K
  • Curby T
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Perceptions of hostile criticism (PHC) from close others are associated with poor individual functioning and low relationship satisfaction, whereas perceptions of constructive criticism (PCC) are associated with better relationship satisfaction. There is little empirical knowledge, however, regarding individual factors that contribute to such perceptions. The present study examined associations of overall emotion regulation difficulties, as well as the specific use of expressive suppression and cognitive reappraisal, with PHC and PCC. Both partners of 63 community couples completed global self-report measures. Sixty-one couples also completed similar measures immediately following each of three discussions during a laboratory session. Multilevel modeling analyses of global data indicated that individuals' reports of PHC were higher when they used more suppression and when both they and their partners reported greater difficulty in emotion regulation. Results with discussion-specific data were similar: Participants reported higher PHC in discussions when both they and their partners reported using more suppression or when they had more difficulties in emotion regulation during the discussions. Individuals reported higher levels of PCC when their partners reported using less suppression, both globally and in discussions. Finally, participants also reported higher levels of PCC in discussions when they reported using more reappraisal.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Communication
  • Couples
  • Emotion regulation
  • Perceived criticism

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