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An Examination of the Association Between Emotion Reactivity and Distress Tolerance Among College Students

Bruns, Kaitlyn M., BA*; O'Bryan, Emily M., MA*; McLeish, Alison C., PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 6 - p 429–432
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000990
Original Articles
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The goal of the present investigation was to examine associations between emotion reactivity in global and specific distress tolerance domains. Participants were 113 undergraduates (65.5% female, 82.3% Caucasian; Mage = 20.0, SD = 4.02, range = 18–45 years) who completed a battery of self-report measures. As hypothesized, the results indicate that, after controlling for sex and negative affectivity, greater levels of emotion reactivity were significantly associated with lower levels of global distress tolerance (12.5% unique variance) and the four specific distress tolerance domains: tolerance (8.6% unique variance), absorption (11.4% unique variance), appraisal (8% unique variance), and regulation (8.1% unique variance). These findings suggest that individuals who tend to react more strongly to their emotions have greater difficulty tolerating emotional distress, and interventions that target emotion reactivity may be an effective way to improve distress tolerance and reduce the risk of developing psychopathology among undergraduates.

*Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; and

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

Send reprint requests to Alison C. McLeish, PhD, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville, 317 Life Sciences Building, Louisville, KY 40292. E-mail: alison.mcleish@louisville.edu.

Online date: April 12, 2019

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