Although people with higher attachment anxiety desire to be supportive partners, they tend to provide lower-quality support. Highly anxious partners struggle to provide effective support because when individuals express negative emotions when seeking support, it tends to trigger highly anxious partners' concerns about their relational value and thus undermine their support provision. How might individuals seek support in order to encourage highly anxious partners to provide better support? This study utilized an observational study of dyads (N = 100 mixed-sex couples) and examined support seekers' expressive suppression (i.e., concealing negative emotions) as a means to reduce the relational threat that highly anxious support providers typically experience during challenging support-relevant situations and elicit better support provision from highly anxious support providers. The results demonstrated that while support seekers with highly anxious partners engaged in marginally more expressive suppression, such engagement did not yield positive effects on highly anxious providers' felt value, support provision, or relationship satisfaction and commitment in the following 6 months. The results illustrate that while expressive suppression may be a commonly used emotion regulation strategy among individuals with highly anxious partners, it may not yield positive effects.
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Thesis advisor: Girme, Yuthika
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