Category: Personality Disorders


Interpersonal Stressors and Maladaptive Emotion Regulation Behaviors in Day-to-Day Life

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

Keywords: Self-Injury | Emotion Regulation | Ecological Momentary Assessment
Presentation Type: Symposium

Daily stressors, particularly those that are interpersonal in nature, play an important role in cognitive-behavioral models of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI; Turner et al., 2016), suicidal ideation (King & Merchant, 2008), disordered eating (Cain et al., 2011), alcohol and drug use (Cooper et al., 1992; Sher et al., 2005), and compulsive buying (Kellett & Bolton, 2009). According to these models, interpersonal stressors produce negative affect, which serves as an establishing operation for maladaptive behaviors that provide short-term emotional relief. The goal of this study was to identify specific types of interpersonal stressors associated with maladaptive behaviors using a daily diary.

Participants were 60 young adults (aged 18-35, 85% female, 27% with Borderline Personality Disorder) with a history of recent and repeated NSSI. Participants provided daily reports of daily stressors (Bolger et al., 1989; Ruehlman & Karoly, 1991), negative affect (Wilhelm & Schoebi, 2007) and thoughts about or engagement in NSSI, suicidal behavior, disordered eating [binge eating, purging, or fasting], alcohol or drugs use, and impulsive spending, for 14 consecutive days. Generalized estimating equations examined the association of four types of interpersonal stressors (hostile, insensitive, interfering, and ridiculing) and each behavior.

            Controlling for daily negative affect and non-interpersonal stressors, insensitive interactions were associated with NSSI thoughts (OR=1.30, 95% CI=1.07-1.57), whereas interfering interactions were associated with binge eating thoughts (OR=1.45, 95% CI=1.01-2.10). There was a non-significant association of hostile interactions and NSSI acts (OR = 1.32, 95% CI = .997 to 1.75). Insensitive interactions were associated with greater likelihood of alcohol use (OR=1.49, 95% CI=1.04-2.14), whereas hostile interactions predicted lower likelihood of alcohol use (OR=.68, 95% CI=.48-.95). Ridiculing interactions were associated with drug use (OR=3.28, 95% CI=1.53-7.03). These results illuminate the specific interpersonal contexts that increase risk for maladaptive emotion regulation behaviors, informing cognitive-behavioral models and treatments.

Brianna J. Turner

Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Victoria


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Interpersonal Stressors and Maladaptive Emotion Regulation Behaviors in Day-to-Day Life

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