Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Christopher C Conway

Committee Member

Elizabeth Raposa

Committee Member

Janice Zeman


Distress tolerance (DT), or the ability to effectively withstand aversive internal experiences, is related to diverse physical and mental health benefits, including resilience to depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. DT might prevent health problems by promoting more adaptive and less maladaptive emotion regulation decisions in the face of stressful events. The present study—a pilot investigation that is the basis for a forthcoming study—tested this hypothesis by examining between- and within-person associations of DT with a repertoire of 12 common emotion regulation strategies. We recruited 25 high-anxiety university students to complete surveys of DT and emotion regulation efforts in response to stressors for 14 consecutive days. Multilevel structural equation modeling analyses indicated that higher DT was inversely associated with select maladaptive regulatory strategies (i.e., procrastination and rumination) both within and across persons, although this trend unexpectedly did not extend to behavioral avoidance, experiential avoidance, drug use, suppression, or distraction. Findings regarding adaptive strategies indicated that higher DT may enable greater reflection, reappraisal and acceptance within, but not across, persons. Also, higher DT unexpectedly predicted less social support seeking and affect labeling between- and within-persons. In several cases, there were discrepant associations among DT and emotion regulation strategies across between- and within-person levels. In these scenarios, within-person associations were most consistent with theory and evidence. Taken together, findings suggest that higher DT limits maladaptive emotion regulation behaviors and inconsistently predicts adaptive regulatory efforts. We discuss our findings and their implications for theory and intervention.



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