Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Expressive suppression is known to be harmful for social relationships, but we still know little about why people suppress their emotions in the first place. Recent research suggests that people often use suppression to manage how they appear to others. For my dissertation, I built on this body of research by more thoroughly investigating the association between suppression and impression management goals. I focused on the two most common and universal impressions people are motivated to make: appearing warm and appearing competent. I took a functional approach to emotion regulation to test the hypothesis that suppression is typically motivated by the desire to appear competent as opposed to the desire to appear warm. I also examined the effects of two potential moderators: gender and beliefs about suppression’s utility.I tested my hypotheses with two complementary studies that allowed me to capture the naturalistic and causal links between suppression and impression management goals. In Study 1, undergraduates (N = 150) completed individual difference measures of suppression utility beliefs and a 9-day experience sampling study measuring their momentary impression management goals and suppression use. Daily suppression use was similar regardless of whether individuals endorsed warmth goals or competence goals In Study 2, undergraduates (N = 190) were assigned to one of four conditions instructing them to pursue an impression management goal (warmth, competence) or control goal (uninstructed, pro-hedonic) during a mock job interview (i.e., Trier Social Stress Task). Afterwards, they completed individual difference measures of their suppression utility beliefs and reported on their suppression use during the interview. Suppression was reported less by those in the warmth condition than those in the competence condition (but there was no difference compared to the control conditions). Across both studies, neither gender nor suppression utility beliefs moderated the effects of impression management goals on suppression use. Taken together, these findings suggest that suppression is broadly motivated by impression management goals, at least when they are approach-oriented. Despite prominent gender norms about emotion, suppression also seems to be used for this same reason by both men and women and regardless of one’s beliefs about suppression’s utility.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Tammy English

Committee Members

Hillary Anger Elfenbein, Randall J. Larsen, Michael J. Strube, Renee J. Thompson,


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