• Users Online: 46
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73-77

Effectiveness of emotion regulation instruction on interpersonal problems among female high school students

1 Department of Humanities Sciences, Neyshabur Branch, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur, Iran
2 Department of Humanities Sciences, Member of Young Researchers and Elite Club, Neyshabur Branch, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur, Iran
3 Department of Humanities Sciences, Scientific Applied Training Center of Neyshabur, Neyshabur, Iran

Date of Submission01-Jan-2020
Date of Decision22-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance02-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication17-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mustafa Bolghan-Abadi
Young Researchers and Elite Club, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur Branch, Neyshabur
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/iahs.iahs_1_20

Rights and Permissions

Aim: This study was conducted to observe the effectiveness of emotion regulation instruction on interpersonal problems among 10th-grade female students in 2016–2017. Methodology: We used the quasi-experimental method and conducted pretests and posttests on the control group. Statistical population of this study is comprised of all 10th-grade female students of Neyshabur (Khorasan Razavi Province). In this study, 30 female students were selected by multistage randomized cluster sampling. Then, they were randomly placed in the central and experimental groups (15 students in each group). Inventory of interpersonal problem questionnaire was used to measure the level of interpersonal problems among the students. The results of this questionnaire were confirmed and its Cronbach's alpha value was 0.88. We performed our emotion regulation instruction for the experimental group during 8 sessions that each lasted 90 min; these instruction sessions were held once a week, and the control group was also included in the list. At the end of these sessions, both the groups were reassessed. Results: The results of this study showed that there is a significant difference (P < 0.001) between the experimental and the control groups in the level of their interpersonal problems. Considering the level of emotion regulation effectiveness, we can allegedly claim that 87.6% of changes in interpersonal problems are a result of emotion regulation instruction. Conclusion: It seems that by instructing emotion regulation in schools, the level of interpersonal problems among students can be reduced. The emotion regulation as a model of behavior triggers social support for adolescents. Social support can lead to solve interpersonal problems. Implications of emotion regulation model for basic and clinical research on close relationships are discussed.

Keywords: Emotion regulation instruction, female students, interpersonal problems

How to cite this article:
Ahmady S, Bolghan-Abadi M, Bozorgmanesh Z. Effectiveness of emotion regulation instruction on interpersonal problems among female high school students. Int Arch Health Sci 2020;7:73-7

How to cite this URL:
Ahmady S, Bolghan-Abadi M, Bozorgmanesh Z. Effectiveness of emotion regulation instruction on interpersonal problems among female high school students. Int Arch Health Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 23];7:73-7. Available from: http://www.iahs.kaums.ac.ir/text.asp?2020/7/2/73/286981

  Introduction Top

Adolescence is a period in which physical, emotional, and mental changes occur in an individual. During this phase, the child transitions into an adult. An individual's interests, preferences, fantasies, mood swings, and physical attributes undergo changes in this period. These changes cause a person to be more sensitive and increase his/her interpersonal problems; therefore, most psychologists consider this period to be full of emotional turmoil.[1] Interpersonal problems are issues that a person experiences in his/her relationships with others. These problems may cause mental crisis in an individual.[2]

Furthermore, interpersonal problems play an important role in various types of psychopathology.[3],[4],[5] Issues with certainty, sociability, obedience, intimacy, responsibility, and emotional restraint are among a person's interpersonal problems.[6] Some of the experts believe that severe problems in interpersonal relationships are an indication of personality disorders; thus, people with interpersonal difficulties are more likely to suffer from severe personality disorders.[7]

Interpersonal problems are also related to depression.[8] Interpersonal problems among students may cause negative effects such as academy failure, loneliness, suicide, early school dropout, dysfunctional relationships, and drug abuse.[9] Adolescence is a period in which a person undergoes physical, emotional, and social changes and experiences intense emotions. If he/she cannot regulate his/her emotions, he/she will have more interpersonal problems regarding the mental pressure of his/her surroundings.[10] Hence, emotion regulation in adolescence can be a solution to reduce these emotional conflicts.

Psychological studies show that emotional self-regulation is an important factor in the students' mental health, improved school performance, and especially, social interactions.[11] It has become clear that emotion regulation plays a critical role in mental health and having better social relations.[12],[13] Poor emotion regulation may cause internalizing disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, and social isolation) and externalizing disorders (e.g., delinquency and aggressive behaviors).[14] Therefore, focusing on ways to confront emotions during negative experiences of adolescence can be critical because there is a strong connection between internalizing problems and negative thinking or cognitive distortion among individuals.

The ability to confront emotions empowers a person to understand his/her and others' emotions and their effect on his/her behavior. Through this understanding, he/she can better respond to his/her emotions.[15] The aim of emotion regulation instruction is to control negative emotions and use emotions positively.[16] Cole et al.[17] believe that emotion regulation in individuals is an indication of their intense emotions and includes changes in self, emotions, or other psychological processes (such as memory and social interactions).

The studies demonstrate that instructing emotion regulation has been effective in reducing emotional disorders,[18] drug addiction,[18] pathology symptoms,[19] and depression.[12]

Since adolescence is a period of physical, mental, social changes and intense emotions, many nervous and cognitive systems that deal with emotions develop during this phase.[20] Accordingly, Hampel and Petermann [21] claim that focusing on confronting one's emotions during the negative occurrences of this period can be important because internalizing problems and negative thinking or cognitive distortion among individuals are strongly connected. Based on the previous sections, the importance of adolescence and emotion regulation effect in reducing behavioral problems, this study aims to examine the effectiveness of emotion regulation instruction on adolescent female students' interpersonal problems.

  Methodology Top

In this research, the semi-experimental method and pretest/posttest with control group design were used. All the 10th-grade female students of Neyshabur in 2016–2017 were used as the statistical population. Among them, 30 individuals were selected by a multistage randomized cluster sampling method. First, two schools were randomly selected among 39 high schools. Then, three classes were chosen from each school and five individuals were randomly singled out from each class. Eventually, these individuals were placed in the control and experimental groups (15 individuals in each group). Inclusion criteria were including having age between 13 and 18 years, being female, and not having any psychological disorders. Exclusion criteria were including having contest to participate in the research and not having more than two absences in intervention sessions.

Research tools

Inventory of Interpersonal Problems–Short Form

The short version of this questionnaire was formulated by Barkham et al.[22] This questionnaire includes these subscales: assertiveness and sociability, openness, caring, aggression, supportiveness and involvement, and dependency. In Iran, Fath et al.[23] performed a factor analysis for this questionnaire. Their results showed that among the eight subscales, only six were confirmed. Furthermore, the correlation coefficient of convergent validity for this questionnaire and for the Alexithymia scale was 0.53. The reliability of this questionnaire was calculated using Cronbach's alpha for subscales of assertiveness and sociability, openness, caring, aggression, supportiveness and involvement, and dependency; the resulting values were 0.83, 0.63, 0.60, 0.83, 0.71, and 0.63, respectively. The total score was 0.82.

[Table 1] shows the contents and planning of emotion regulation instruction sessions based on Gross's model.[15] The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) method.
Table 1: The contents and planning of treatment in the experimental group

Click here to view

  Results Top

In this section, we analyze the descriptive and inferential findings, respectively. The mean and standard deviation for the experimental group members were 15.53 and 0.74 and 15.33 and 0.62 for the control group. [Table 1] shows the mean and standard deviation of the subjects' interpersonal problems.

As shown in [Table 2], the interpersonal problem subscales among the two groups are different. To study the significance of this difference, we used the multivariate ANCOVA (MANCOVA). All premises were observed for this analysis. The multivariate analysis results in Wilks' lambda measure specified that there is a significant difference in one of the subscales among the two groups. For a more accurate data analysis, an ANCOVA was used in MANCOVA model. The results are shown in [Table 3].
Table 2: Mean and standard deviation of interpersonal problems

Click here to view
Table 3: The results of analysis of covariance in multivariate analysis of covariance for interpersonal problems

Click here to view

As shown in [Table 3], the results of multivariate covariance analysis showed that there is a significant difference between all the subscales of interpersonal problems among the two groups. Considering the mean tables, we can state that instructing adolescent female students in the experimental group on emotion regulation has been effective in reducing their interpersonal problems.

  Discussion Top

The goal of this study was to examine the emotion regulation instruction effectiveness in reducing interpersonal problems. The study results show that in posttest stage of the two groups (experimental and control), instructions on emotion regulation have led to the decrease of interpersonal problems. These results corroborate with the results of other studies.[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32]

Therefore, the results of this study can be interpreted as such: interpersonal problems may cause inefficient social interactions and lack of assertiveness in students. Due to this fact, adolescents with interpersonal problems are not assertive and have difficulty regulating their emotions; therefore, they are not skilled in their social relations and do not have the proper social skills. Emotion regulation instruction can be effective in improving social interactions and interpersonal problems. We can claim that emotion regulation is a personal capability that helps individuals to adapt in their social interactions. Poor emotion regulation may lead to interpersonal problems, depression, and personality disorders.[33] Gross [15] found that suppressing emotions may decline cognitive capabilities. Emotion regulation skills facilitate the teacher–student relations. Cognitive assessment of students' behavior will improve their attitudes and learning skills and consequently increases their motivation and success. Hence, emotion regulation instruction can be seen as a method of reducing interpersonal problems. According to Ciarrochi et al.,[34] students who are socially efficient effectively cope with emotions and their effects and manage them. Theoretically, emotion regulation variables such as acceptance may allow individuals who are emotionally vulnerable to live in the present; as a result, they can have a more objective view, rather than having an extreme reaction to their surroundings. People who use poor emotion regulation strategies, ineffective emotional response, and avoidance are more inclined to control their turbulent emotions and balance themselves emotionally when faced with stressful situations. Instead of confronting the source of their stress and finding a solution, they resort to personal methods that can control the negative consequences of mental pressure (e.g., tensions and emotional problems). Using poor emotion regulation strategies during a mental crisis may cause a person to avoid confronting his/her problems and not deal with them in a focused manner.[35],[36] On the other hand, focusing on finding a solution means that a person has to try consciously to logically assess the source of his/her stress; this method focuses more on the source of the stress. The proper understanding of emotions is essential to interpersonal relations. The difficulties in understanding emotions and inefficient emotional connection with others may cause many problems in an individual's interpersonal relations. These individuals often experience emotions which they feel they cannot escape from. They are not very cognizant of their emotions; therefore, since they feel as if they have no control over their emotions, they do not strive to control them.

  Conclusion Top

Emotion regulation instruction can reduce these problems. Hence, emotion regulation can be effective in reducing interpersonal problems. In fact, poor emotion regulation strategies are dangerous for mental health and may lead to physical health problems. Recognizing these ineffective strategies and instructions on better methods can help us prevent these difficulties; as a result, this mental dysfunction will not become prevalent in the society. Accordingly, we can improve the students' mental health and reduce their interpersonal problems by providing emotion regulation instruction in schools.

There were limitations in conducting this research; namely, the statistical population of this research was limited to Neyshabur high school female students. Therefore, it is advised to exercise caution in extending the results of this study to other individuals or students. Furthermore, lack of a follow-up test and controlling all the existing variables simultaneously proved to be problematic.


We appreciate all who help us to conduct this study, especially students who accept to participate in the intervention and those who accept to be on waiting list.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Harris KM, Halpern CT, Smolen A, Haberstick BC. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) twin data. Twin Res Hum Genet 2006;9:988-97.  Back to cited text no. 1
Segrin C. Interpersonal Processes in Psychological Problems. New York: Guilford Press; 2001.  Back to cited text no. 2
Segrin C, Taylor M. Positive interpersonal relationships mediate the association between social skills and psychological well-being. Pers Individ Dif 2007;43:637-46.  Back to cited text no. 3
Wai ST, Yip T. Relationship among dispositional forgiveness of others, interpersonal adjustment and psychological well-being: Implication for interpersonal theory of depression. Pers Individ Dif 2009;46:365-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Worthington EL Jr., Witvliet CV, Pietrini P, Miller AJ. Forgiveness, health, and well-being: A review of evidence for emotional versus decisional forgiveness, dispositional forgivingness, and reduced unforgiveness. J Behav Med 2007;30:291-302.  Back to cited text no. 5
Maniaci G, Picone F, van Holst RJ, Bolloni C, Scardina S, Cannizzaro C. Alterations in the emotional regulation process in gambling addiction: The role of anger and alexithymia. J Gambl Stud 2017;33:633-47.  Back to cited text no. 6
Horowitz LM, Rosenberg SE, Baer BA, Ureño G, Villaseñor VS. Inventory of interpersonal problems: Psychometric properties and clinical applications. J Consult Clin Psychol 1988;56:885-92.  Back to cited text no. 7
McEvoy PM, Burgess MM, Nathan P. The relationship between interpersonal problems, negative cognitions, and outcomes from cognitive behavioral group therapy for depression. J Affect Disord 2013;150:266-75.  Back to cited text no. 8
Inglés CJ, Hidalgo MD, Méndez FX. Interpersonal difficulties in adolescence. Eur J Psychol Assess 2005;21:11-22.  Back to cited text no. 9
McCuen-Wurst C, Ruggieri M, Allison KC. Disordered eating and obesity: Associations between binge-eating disorder, night-eating syndrome, and weight-related comorbidities. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2018;1411:96-105.  Back to cited text no. 10
Stice E, Agras WS. Subtyping bulimic women along dietary restraint and negative affect dimensions. J Consult Clin Psychol 1999;67:460-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
Berking M, Wupperman P. Emotion regulation and mental health: Recent findings, current challenges, and future directions. Curr Opin Psychiatry 2012;25:128-34.  Back to cited text no. 12
DeSteno D, Gross JJ, Kubzansky L. Affective science and health: The importance of emotion and emotion regulation. Health Psychol 2013;32:474-86.  Back to cited text no. 13
Eisenberg N, Cumberland A, Spinrad TL, Fabes RA, Shepard SA, Reiser M, et al. The relations of regulation and emotionality to children's externalizing and internalizing problem behavior. Child Dev 2001;72:1112-34.  Back to cited text no. 14
Gross JJ. Antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation: Divergent consequences for experience, expression, and physiology. J Pers Soc Psychol 1998;74:224-37.  Back to cited text no. 15
Greeson J, Brantley J. Mindfulness and anxiety disorders: Developing a wise relationship with the inner experience of fear. In: Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness. New York: Springer; 2009. p. 171-88.  Back to cited text no. 16
Cole PM, Martin SE, Dennis TA. Emotion regulation as a scientific construct: Methodological challenges and directions for child development research. Child Dev 2004;75:317-33.  Back to cited text no. 17
Azizi A, Borjali A, Golzari M. The effectiveness of emotion regulation training and cognitive therapy on the emotional and addictional problems of substance abusers. Iran J Psychiatry 2010;5:60-5.  Back to cited text no. 18
Schuppert HM, Timmerman ME, Bloo J, van Gemert TG, Wiersema HM, Minderaa RB, et al. Emotion regulation training for adolescents with borderline personality disorder traits: A randomized controlled trial. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2012;51:1314-2300.  Back to cited text no. 19
Quinn CT, Rogers ZR, McCavit TL, Buchanan GR. Improved survival of children and adolescents with sickle cell disease. Blood 2010;115:3447-52.  Back to cited text no. 20
Hampel P, Petermann F. Perceived stress, coping, and adjustment in adolescents. J Adolesc Health 2006;38:409-15.  Back to cited text no. 21
Barkham M, Hardy GE, Startup M. The IIP-32: A short version of the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. 1996;35:21-35.  Back to cited text no. 22
Fath N, Azadfallah P, Rasoolzadeh-Tabatabaee K Rahimi CH. Validity and Reliability of the inventory of interpersonal problems (IIP-32). Clin Psychol 2013;5:69-80.  Back to cited text no. 23
Gratz KL, Bardeen JR, Levy R, Dixon-Gordon KL, Tull MT. Mechanisms of change in an emotion regulation group therapy for deliberate self-harm among women with borderline personality disorder. Behav Res Ther 2015;65:29-35.  Back to cited text no. 24
Gratz KL, Gunderson JG. Preliminary data on an acceptance-based emotion regulation group intervention for deliberate self-harm among women with borderline personality disorder. Behav Ther 2006;37:25-35.  Back to cited text no. 25
Kafetsios K, Hess U. Seeing mixed emotions: Alexithymia, emotion perception bias, and quality in dyadic interactions. Pers Individ Dif 2019;137:80-5.  Back to cited text no. 26
Lim BC, Ployhart RE. Transformational leadership: Relations to the five-factor model and team performance in typical and maximum contexts. J Appl Psychol 2004;89:610-21.  Back to cited text no. 27
Renna ME, Quintero JM, Fresco DM, Mennin DS. Emotion regulation therapy: A mechanism-targeted treatment for disorders of distress. Front Psychol 2017;8:98.  Back to cited text no. 28
Renna ME, Quintero JM, Soffer A, Pino M, Ader L, Fresco DM, et al. A pilot study of emotion regulation therapy for generalized anxiety and depression: Findings from a diverse sample of young adults. Behav Ther 2018;49:403-18.  Back to cited text no. 29
Szczygiel D, Buczny J, Bazinska R. Emotion regulation and emotional information processing: The moderating effect of emotional awareness. Pers Individ dif 2012;52:433-7.  Back to cited text no. 30
Williams WC, Morelli SA, Ong DC, Zaki J. Interpersonal emotion regulation: Implications for affiliation, perceived support, relationships, and well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol 2018;115:224-54.  Back to cited text no. 31
Pisani AR, Wyman PA, Petrova M, Schmeelk-Cone K, Goldston DB, Xia Y, et al. Emotion regulation difficulties, youth-adult relationships, and suicide attempts among high school students in underserved communities. J Youth Adolesc 2013;42:807-20.  Back to cited text no. 32
Eisenberg N, Spinrad TL, Valiente C, editors. Emotion-related Self-regulation and Children's Social, Psychological, and Academic Functioning. Wiley Online Library; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 33
Ciarrochi J, Scott G, Deane FP, Heaven PC. Relations between social and emotional competence and mental health: A construct validation study. Pers Individ Dif 2003;35:1947-63.  Back to cited text no. 34
Lavender JM, Anderson DA. Contribution of emotion regulation difficulties to disordered eating and body dissatisfaction in college men. Int J Eat Disord 2010;43:352-7.  Back to cited text no. 35
Harrison A, Sullivan S, Tchanturia K, Treasure J. Emotional functioning in eating disorders: Attentional bias, emotion recognition and emotion regulation. Psychol Med 2010;40:1887-97.  Back to cited text no. 36


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded55    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal