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Naturally Occurring Expressive Suppression is Associated with Lapses in Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults

  • Yana Suchy (a1), Madison A. Niermeyer (a1), Emilie I. Franchow (a2) and Rosemary E. Ziemnik (a1)


Objectives: Expressive suppression (i.e., effortful regulation of overt affect) has a deleterious impact on executive functioning (EF). This relationship has potential ramifications for daily functioning, especially among older adults, because a close relationship exists between EF and functional independence. However, past research has not directly examined whether expressive suppression impacts instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). The present study examined this association among older adults. Methods: One hundred ten community-dwelling older adults completed a self-report measure of acute (past 24 hr) and chronic (past 2 weeks) expressive suppression, a timed test of IADL, and the Behavioral Dyscontrol Scale as a measure of EF. Results: High chronic expressive suppression was related to slow IADL performance beyond covariates (age, IQ, depression), but only for individuals with low EF. High acute expressive suppression was associated with lower accuracy on IADL tasks beyond covariates (IQ, depression), but this association was fully explained by EF. Conclusions: The current results suggest that expressive suppression is associated with less efficient and more error-prone IADL performance. EF fully accounted for the relationship between acute expressive suppression and IADL performance, showing that suppression is a risk factor for both poorer EF performance and functional lapses in daily life. Furthermore, individuals with weaker EF may be particularly vulnerable to the effect of chronic expressive suppression. (JINS, 2019, 25, 718–728)


Corresponding author

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


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