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Reported Expressive Suppression in Daily Life Is Associated with Slower Action Planning

  • Madison A. Niermeyer (a1), Emilie I. Franchow (a1) and Yana Suchy (a1)


Objectives Growing evidence demonstrates that (a) executive functioning (EF) becomes deleteriously affected by engagement in the emotion regulation strategy known as expressive suppression and (b) EF shows considerable functional and neuroanatomical overlap with motor output. The current study aimed to bridge these two literatures by examining the relationships between naturally occurring expressive suppression and several different aspects of motor output, including action planning, action learning, and motor-control speed and accuracy. In addition, we investigated whether any identified relationships could be explained by EF. Methods Fifty-one healthy young adults completed selected subtests from the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System as indices of EF, a self-report measure of expressive suppression, and a computerized motor sequencing task (Push Turn Taptap task; PTT) designed to assess action planning, action learning, and motor control speed and accuracy. Results Hierarchical regressions using each aspect of PTT performance as the dependent variable revealed that higher than usual self-reported expressive suppression on the day of testing (relative to the 2 weeks preceding testing) was associated with longer action-planning latencies. This relationship was fully explained by EF. No other PTT variables related to expressive suppression on the day of testing. Conclusions These results suggest that increased expressive suppression in daily life is associated with slower action planning, an aspect of motor output that is reliant on EF, highlighting the importance of factors that lead to intra-individual fluctuations in EF and motor performance. (JINS, 2016, 22, 671–681)


Corresponding author

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


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