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Emotional expression and differentiation of self: Implications for psychological adjustment

26 July 1994


It is often implied that the ways in which individuals learn to deal with their emotional experiences stems from early interactions in their family. Differences in the ways people think and manage feelings and the ways in which their emotionality governs their daily interactions with people can be a function of their differentiation from their family of origin. This study explores the relationship between individuals differentiation of self and aspects of emotional expressiveness, and psychological well-being. Sixtyfour undergraduate students completed questionnaires pertaining to the variables. The following hypotheses were explored: higher levels of differentiation of self will be correlated with less ambivalence over emotional expressiveness and higher tendencies to express emotions; higher levels of differentiation of self will be associated with less symptoms of psychological distress; and less ambivalence and more openness to express feelings will be correlated with less symptoms of psychological distress. These hypotheses were confirmed. Implications for understanding the relationship between differentiation of self and emotional experience are discussed.


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