Despite the prominent role of emotion dysregulation in theoretical accounts of borderline personality disorder (BPD), few studies have examined emotion dysregulation in BPD. This study extends extant research by providing an experimental investigation of emotion dysregulation among outpatients with BPD. Specifically, this study modified an experimental measure of distress tolerance to examine differences between outpatients with BPD (n = 17) and those without a personality disorder (n = 18) in 2 aspects of emotion dysregulation: (a) the unwillingness to experience emotional distress in order to pursue goal-directed behavior and (b) the inability to engage in goal-directed behavior when distressed. As hypothesized, BPD participants were less willing to experience distress in order to pursue goal-directed behavior. However, BPD participants did not evidence greater difficulties engaging in goal-directed behavior when distressed. Results highlight directions for future research and suggest that particular aspects of emotion dysregulation may be more or less relevant to BPD.
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