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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The interplay of emotional awareness and emotion regulation strategies in peer victimization Low, Sok Yee


Peer victimization is an emotionally charged experience, one that is all too common in schools today. Although there is an increasing body of research on the emotional processes involved in bullying and victimization, we still know very little about emotional competencies and emotion regulation strategies used by children that enhance or reduce their risk of being victimized at school. This study examined two interrelated components of emotional competence: emotional awareness and the use of two well-researched emotion regulation strategies- cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, and their association with school victimization. In particular, the study investigated the contribution of children’s levels of emotional awareness to their risk of victimization, and how using an antecedent-focused strategy such as reappraisal, or a response-focused strategy such as suppression influences this relationship. Participants were 607 students in grades 4-7 who completed self-report measures of emotional awareness, emotion regulation strategy use (cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression), and experiences of victimization at school. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were conducted to explore the associations between low emotional awareness and the use of specific emotion regulation strategies. Results indicated that low emotional awareness was a predictor for the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy. Results of binary logistic regression analysis, examining the contributions of low emotional awareness and the use of suppression and reappraisal to reported victimization showed that low emotional awareness was associated with increased odds of being victimized, and that the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy decreased the odds of being victimized. For this age group, then, using suppression as an emotion regulation strategy is adaptive for decreasing the risk of victimization, particularly for children with low emotional awareness.

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