Examining the Relationships Between Emotion Regulation, Social Relationships, and Temperament

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MacDonald, Beth
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The present study investigated the relations between emotion regulation, temperament, and the quality of social relationships. Previous research has examined these variables and determined emotion regulation abilities and temperament were appropriate predictors of social functioning. However, the majority of research examining such variables has been conducted in younger populations, outside of Canada. Therefore, the present study contributed to the knowledge base because of the age of participants as well as the location of the research. Within the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, parents and teachers of 31 Grade One students completed questionnaires assessing temperament, social functioning, and emotion regulation abilities. Specifically, teachers completed the School Social Behavior Scale (Merrell, 2002) and parents completed the Emotion Regulation Checklist(Shields& Cicchetti, 1997) and the Colorado Child Temperament Inventory (Buss & Plomin, 1984). This thesis explored two main hypotheses: children rated as possessing a difficult temperament (i.e. high on scales of emotionality and shyness and low on scales of sociability and soothability) would experience greater difficulty regulating emotions and experiencing positive social relationships and children rated as possessing an easy temperament (i.e. low on scales of emotionality and shyness, and high on scales of soothability and sociability) would demonstrate the reverse pattern. Also, children rated as high in emotion regulation would be rated as having positive social relationships and would demonstrate few anti-social behaviors and children rated as low in emotion regulation would demonstrate the reverse pattern. Following data analyses, several interesting findings were discovered. For example, the first hypothesis was partially supported while there was no evidence to support the second. However, the most interesting finding was the role of temperament. Multiple Regression analyses were conducted to examine if social behavior could be predicted from emotion regulation and temperament variables. While there were significant results for some of the temperament variables in this prediction, no statistically significant results were noted for the emotion regulation variables. Analyses revealed temperament variables account for 41% of the variance in Peer Relations, 40% of the variance in Self-Management, and 49% of the variance in Academic Behavior. Temperament variables were therefore found to be a significantly better predictor of social relationships as compared to emotion regulation abilities. Significant correlations included Negativity showed a significant positive correlation with Emotionality as well as a significant negative relationship with Attention,Soothability, and Emotion Regulation. Emotion Regulation was positively correlated with Attention and Soothability. In addition, Attention showed a significant positive correlation with Peer Relations, Self-Management, and Academic Behavior. Finally, Shyness showed a significant negative correlation with Peer Relations. A discussion regarding speculation behind the current findings, and implications of the current research is provided.
emotion regulation , social relationships , school children