Attachment and Emotion Regulation: A Cross-Cultural Comparative Study of Iranian and Dutch Gay Men

J Homosex. 2022 Jan 14;1-16. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2021.2020545. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Negative beliefs and stigmatization of all that is not heterosexual still have an adverse impact on the mental health of the homosexual population in many countries. The purpose of the present study was to comparatively assess how sociocultural differences regarding the level of homosexuality acceptance impact the adult attachment dimensions and emotion regulation strategies among three groups of Iranian and Dutch gay men. A community sample of 124 gay men (40 of Iranians residing in their home country, 41 of Iranians immigrated to the Netherlands and 43 Dutch) participated in the study and completed Revised Adult Attachment Scale (RAAS) and Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ). MANOVA and follow-up post-hoc Tukey tests were conducted in order to analyze the data. Results demonstrated a noticeable difference in both studied variables, attachment dimensions (close, anxiety, and depend) and emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression), among the three groups of participants. As the Iranian (residing in Iran) group showed the greatest levels of anxiety and emotional suppression with the lowest levels of close (convenience of getting intimate to others), depend (trust and depend on others to be availabale when needed) and cognitive reappraisal (ability to alter the emotion caused by an event, before experiencing it by reinterpreting the situation), while the highest levels of depend, close and cognitive reappraisal and the lowest levels of anxiety and emotional suppression were seen in the Dutch group. Finally, Iranian gay immigrants came half way between. This data highlights the role of cultural differences in terms of homosexuality acceptance or stigmatization, in the way gay men exhibit their attachment and manage their emotions either by reappraisal or suppression. Comparative cross-cultural studies are possibly able to open paths to new research on psychological factors of non-heterosexuals in different countries with various cultures and religions.

Keywords: Attachment; Dutch; Iranian; cross-cultural; emotion regulation; gay men.