Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

James F. Paulson

Committee Member

Kristin E. Heron

Committee Member

Cathy Lau-Barraco


Emotion regulation is a transdiagnostic factor that functions as a crucial contributor to individual well-being and social functioning. Research seeking to identify adaptive or maladaptive strategies of emotion regulation has often focused on individual strategies, though emerging evidence suggests that what constitutes “adaptive” regulation is often context-dependent. Having a large repertoire of emotion regulation strategies that one is willing to use at different rates has been termed “emotion regulation variability,” and has been linked to positive individual outcomes. While the benefits of emotion regulation variability have been demonstrated on an individual level, the impact on romantic relationships has yet to be explored. Thus, the present study sought to examine patterns of emotion regulation strategy use to see if some patterns better represent adaptive emotion regulation in the context of a romantic relationship.

Participants (n = 247) were emerging adult college students (Mage = 20.30 years; 84.6 % women; 34.4% African American, 47% Caucasian) in romantic partnerships who completed questionnaires on emotion regulation, depression, anxiety, relationship functioning and emotional awareness. Latent profile analysis was conducted to characterize possible latent profiles of emotion regulation strategy. Results suggested a four-profile solution: 1) low-regulation, 2) relax, engage, and reappraise 3) suppression-propense, and 4) high-regulation. There were significant differences across latent profiles on depression and anxiety, and this relationship was moderated by emotional awareness. Similarly, for relationship functioning, there was a marginal interaction between latent profile and emotional awareness. For three of the profiles (low-regulation, engage, reappraise and relax, high-regulation) there was a negative association between emotional awareness and each outcome variable, whereas the suppression-propense profile evidenced a positive relationship between emotional awareness and each outcome variable. Thus, beneficial emotion regulation tactics may be contingent on emotional awareness, and findings are discussed within each level. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.


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