Category: Adult Anxiety
Distress Tolerance (DT), or the ability to tolerate aversive cognitive, emotional, or physical states, has been shown to be a transdiagnostic risk factor for the development and maintenance of various forms of psychopathology (Simons & Gaher, 2005; Zvolensky, Vujanovic, Bernstein, & Leyro, 2010). The measurement of DT has been the subject of considerable debate regarding the construct actually being measured and the relation between DT factors and real world behaviors. The Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS), is the most commonly employed measure of DT and was initially developed to assess four types of emotional distress tolerance (perceived ability to tolerate distress, subjective appraisal of distress, attention absorption by negative emotions, and efforts to regulate emotion). However, subsequent research has suggested variable numbers of factors, ranging from one to four factors, with the majority of psychometric studies utilizing college student sample. The current study sought to assess the factor structure of the DTS in a large, diverse sample of adults in the US. Participants consisted of 305 individuals ranging in age from 18 to 77 (73% female; 79% Caucasian) collected via Amazon’s MTurk service. Principal axis factoring with a direct oblimin rotation revealed two factors with eigenvalues over 1.0 and a scree plot confirmed the two factor solution. The first factor consisted of 11 items assessing negative cognitions associated with feeling distress or upset, and the second factor consisted of four items of which three assessed actions taken to reduce or avoid distress. The results of this study suggest that the DTS may identify specific facets of emotional distress tolerance differently than was originally thought. However, the DTS does seem to be reliable in predicting some aspects of emotional distress tolerance. Suggestions for future research will be discussed.