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Psychiatry Res. 2018 Aug;266:186-192. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.05.067. Epub 2018 May 28.

Emotion dysregulation, impulsivity and personality disorder traits: A community sample study.

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Department of Developmental Psychology, Tilburg University, Warandelaan 2, Tilburg 5037AB, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Department of Educational Sciences, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.
Department of Human Sciences, Lumsa University, Rome, Italy.
Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Rome, Italy; Studi Cognitivi, Modena, Italy.
Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Rome, Italy.
Spinal Unit San Raffaele Sulmona Institute, Il Negozio di Psicologia Pescara, Pescara, Italy.


The present study was designed to test an emotion regulation framework to understand individual differences in personality disorder (PD) traits in a non-clinical sample. Specifically, we tested whether: selected dimensions of emotion dysregulation were differentially related to PD traits; and whether emotion dysregulation and impulsivity had independent associations with PD traits. A community sample of 399 individuals (mean age = 37.91; 56.6% males) completed self-report measures of PDs, emotion dysregulation and impulsivity. Emotion dysregulation facets and impulsivity had uniform bivariate associations with PD traits, but also evidenced unique associations in multiple regression analyses. Nonacceptance of emotional responses was the emotion dysregulation dimension underlying a wide array of PD. A limited repertoire of effective emotion regulation strategies was characteristic of cluster C PD, whereas emotional unawareness distinctly predicted schizoid PD. Antisocial PD traits were uniquely related to difficulties controlling impulsive behavior when upset. Finally, histrionic, narcissistic, and obsessive-compulsive PD were related to better self-reported emotion regulation. Impulsivity further explained a significant amount of variance in schizotypal, antisocial, borderline (positively), and obsessive-compulsive PD traits (negatively). If replicated in clinical samples, our findings will support the usefulness of targeting both emotional dysregulation and impulsivity in PDs psychotherapy.


Emotion regulation; Emotion regulation strategies; Emotional nonacceptance; Negative urgency; Personality

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