Affect intolerance (AI), one’s perceived sensitivity to, and intolerance of, unpleasant emotional states, is a risk and maintenance factor of affective disorders. To cope with AI, individuals may rely on maladaptive emotion regulation techniques that provide quick, but short-lived, relief from distress. Two cognitively based maladaptive emotion regulation strategies—repetitive negative thinking (RNT) and thought suppression (TS)—reflect contrasting attempts to cope with unwanted emotions. The present study sought to simultaneously examine the relationships between AI, maladaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategies, and symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders using structural equation modeling. Data from a community sample (N = 590) was used to assess the relationship between an empirically derived latent AI factor and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This latent AI factor demonstrated indirect effects on depression symptoms via RNT (β = 0.212, p = 0.039) and on OCD symptoms via RNT (β = 0.197, p = 0.021) and TS (β = 0.171, p = 0.001). There were no indirect effects of the latent factor on anxiety symptoms. These results suggest that elevated AI is associated with greater psychological symptoms via the use of maladaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategies, and that this relationship differs by symptom type.
The Relationship Between Affect Intolerance, Maladaptive Emotion Regulation, and Psychological Symptoms
Brittany A. Jaso
Stephanie E. Hudiburgh
Aaron S. Heller
Kiara R. Timpano