Emotion regulation in social interaction: Physiological and emotional responses associated with social inhibition

S.C.N. Duijndam, A. Karreman, J. Denollet, N. Kupper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Social inhibition may be associated with individual differences in emotion regulation. Mechanisms relating emotion regulation to social inhibition are largely unknown. We therefore examined how social inhibition is associated with emotional, sympathetic, and parasympathetic responses during sadness induction, and while employing emotion regulation strategies during social interaction after sadness induction. Undergraduate students (N = 216; 72% female) completed the Social Inhibition Questionnaire and participated in a sadness induction and emotion regulation (i.e., suppression and reappraisal) social interaction task, while emotional states, and sympathetic and parasympathetic reactivity were assessed. Repeated measures ANCOVAs showed that during sadness induction, social inhibition was unrelated to the emotional response, but social inhibition was associated with a blunted parasympathetic withdrawal response, due to an already withdrawn parasympathetic tone at rest. This may be suggestive of increased allostatic load with higher social inhibition, and may contribute to stress-related health risks. Both suppression and reappraisal tasks successfully diminished sadness, and this reduction was smaller with increasing levels of social inhibition. Physiological responses to emotion regulation efforts were independent of social inhibition. Elevated sadness in response to instructed emotion regulation in socially inhibited individuals may indicate more emotional distress during social interaction due to heightened threat sensitivity they experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-72
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Emotion induction
  • Emotion regulation
  • Reappraisal
  • Social inhibition
  • Suppression

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