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Deleterious Impact of Expressive Suppression on Test Performance Persists at One-Year Follow-Up in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

  • Yana Suchy (a1), Madison Amelia Niermeyer (a1), Emilie Irene Franchow (a1) (a2) and Rosemary Ziemnik (a1)


Objectives: Expressive suppression (ES) is an emotion-regulation strategy that is associated with poorer performance on subsequently administered tests of executive functioning (EF). It is not known, however, how far into the future ES interferes with EF. This study examined whether (a) ES negatively affects performance on EF tests repeated 1 year after the initial administration (presumably through interference with learning, leading to a reduced practice effect), and (b) whether such an effect, if seen, is unique to EF or whether it also affects lower-order cognitive processes needed for EF test performance. Methods: Sixty-six non-demented community-dwelling older adults were randomly assigned to either an ES group or control group. Executive and non-executive tests were administered before and immediately following the exposure to an emotionally evocative video, and then again at 1-year follow-up. Groups were compared at 1-year follow-up on tests of EF and lower-order processes, to examine whether the previously demonstrated impact of ES on EF is evident only immediately following the experimental manipulation (Franchow & Suchy, 2017), or also at 1-year follow-up. Results: The results showed that participants who engaged in ES continued to exhibit poorer performance on EF tests 1 year later. This effect was not present for performance on tests of lower-order processes. Conclusions: These results suggest that the use of ES before an EF task can interfere with the ability to benefit from exposure to that task, thereby negatively affecting future performance. (JINS, 2019, 25, 29–38)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Yana Suchy, Department of Psychology, 380 S. 1530 E. Room 502, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112; E-mail:


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