On the interpersonal regulation of emotions: Emotional reliance across gender, relationships, and cultures


should be addressed to Richard M. Ryan, University of Rochester, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, Rochester, NY 14627, e-mail: ryan@psych.rochester.edu.


Three studies examine people's willingness to rely on others for emotional support. We propose that emotional reliance (ER) is typically beneficial to well-being. However, due to differing socialization and norms, ER is also expected to differ across gender and cultures. Further, following a self-determination theory perspective, we hypothesize that ER is facilitated by social partners who support one's psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Results from the studies supported the view that ER is generally associated with greater well-being and that it varies significantly across different relationships, cultural groups, and gender. Within-person variations in ER were systematically related to levels of need satisfaction within specific relationships, over and above between-person differences. The discussion focuses on the adaptive value and dynamics of ER.