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Compr Psychiatry. 2011 Nov-Dec;52(6):744-53. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2010.11.005. Epub 2011 Jan 22.

Distress tolerance moderates the relationship between negative affect intensity with borderline personality disorder levels.

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Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA.


A number of studies have suggested that negative emotionality and negative affect intensity play key roles in the development and maintenance of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, more recent research indicates that one's response to affective discomfort may be an even more important variable in the pathogenesis of BPD than either negative emotionality or negative affect intensity per se. As such, the current study aimed to empirically test the moderating role of 2 well-validated laboratory measures of the ability to tolerate psychological distress (distress tolerance) in the relationship of negative emotionality and negative affect intensity with BPD levels. Results provide laboratory-based evidence for a moderating effect of distress tolerance on the relationship of negative emotionality and negative affect intensity with levels of BPD. Specifically, the 2 former variables were related to levels of BPD among those with low distress tolerance. The current results add support to existing developmental frameworks of BPD and suggest the importance of modifying one's response to affective distress along with levels of negative emotionality in treatment settings.

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