Individual Differences in Emotion Expression: Hierarchical Structure and Relations With Psychological Distress

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Several constructs reflecting individual differences in emotion expression have been described in the literature, yet their structural organization is unknown. The present study provided a taxonomy of these individual differences and determined their relations to depression and anxiety symptoms. Exploratory factor analyses suggested seven emotion-expression factors—Affect Intensity, Ambivalence About Expression, Disclosure of Negative Emotion, Disclosure of Emotion, Disclosure of Lack of Affect, Expression of Positive Emotion, and Secret Keeping—are explained by two second-order factors: Emotional Constraint and Emotional Expression. Multiple regression and canonical correlation analyses suggested that a reluctance to express emotions is related to heightened psychological symptoms. These findings bridge constructs from disparate literatures, and they provide support for emotion dysregulation models of affective disorders.


This article was originally published as Barr, L. K., Kahn, J. H., & Schneider, W. J. (2008). Individual differences in emotion expression: Hierarchical structure and relations with psychological distress. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27(10), 1045–1077.