Category: Personality Disorders

Symposium

BPD Symptoms and Affective Responding to Rejection and Acceptance: Role of Romantic Partners

Friday, November 17
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom A, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Borderline Personality Disorder | Couples / Close Relationships | Emotion
Presentation Type: Symposium

Although there is evidence for increased emotional and behavioral reactivity to interpersonal perceptions in borderline personality disorder (BPD), researchers have yet to examine how affective responding may differ in the context of interactions with one’s romantic partner as compared with non-romantic partners.  We examined event-contingent recording (ECR) of daily interpersonal interactions in a diagnostically diverse sample of 101 patients who were involved in a romantic relationship and in psychiatric treatment.  We tested whether the unique effect of BPD symptoms on affective responses to perceptions of rejection or acceptance differed in interactions with one’s romantic partner as compared to interactions with non-romantic partners.  Although perceptions of rejecting behavior were associated with within-person increases in negative emotion for all participants, in interactions with romantic partners, those with high BPD symptoms reported heighted hostility and to a lesser extent attenuated sadness in response to perceptions of rejection.  BPD symptoms were associated with attenuated positive affect in response to perceptions of accepting behavior from romantic partners, but not non-romantic partners.  This study highlights that heightened interpersonal sensitivity characteristic of BPD may not emerge across all relationships or for all types of affective responses.  Implications for romantic relationship dysfunction are discussed.

Sophie A. Lazarus

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

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