Distress tolerance and stress-induced emotion regulation behavior

Maria A. Larrazabal, Kristin Naragon-Gainey, Christopher C. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


High distress tolerance (DT)—the ability to effectively withstand psychological discomfort—predicts positive physical and mental health outcomes. One possible, but untested, reason for this association is that DT promotes adaptive profiles of emotion-regulation (ER) behavior in the face of stress. In the present study, 199 high-neuroticism university students completed daily surveys of DT and stress-linked ER behaviors for 14 days. We used multilevel structural equation modeling to delineate the between- and within-person ER correlates of DT. We found that higher DT predicted lower rates of most of the 12 ER behaviors—both maladaptive and adaptive—that we examined, and this pattern was fairly consistent at between- and within-person levels of analysis. Whereas these DT effects mostly disappeared when adjusting for overlap with neighboring constructs (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty) at the between-person level, there was more evidence of DT incremental validity at the within-person level. Overall, our findings suggest that higher DT, both as an individual difference factor and a state-like process that changes day to day, might reduce motivation to deliberately engage ER processes to manage stressful events. Data, analysis code, and study materials are available at https://osf.io/mfawt/.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104243
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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