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Emotion dysregulation in daily life: Lab indices of emotion dysregulation moderate relations between interpersonal stressors and fear
Emotion dysregulation (ED) is trans-diagnostic, relevant to a wide range of psychological conditions. Although many laboratory-based studies have examined purported indices of ED, less is known about how ED is manifested in daily life as well as the associations between laboratory and real life measures of ED. We present data from two recent studies that examine these associations. First, we collected psychophysiological data on ED in the lab (respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA) and then 1-3 weeks of ambulatory assessments from 30 adult psychiatric outpatients. The second study collected fMRI data from 27 women psychiatric outpatients who then completed 2 weeks of ambulatory assessment. Both studies included daily measures of affect and perceived interpersonal stressors. Results from multilevel models indicated that, in both studies: (1) daily interpersonal stressors were positively associated with same-day fear; and (2) the daily relation between interpersonal stressors and fear was moderated by lab indices of ED. Concerning (2), in the first study, resting RSA attenuated the daily stressors-fear relation, indicating a protective effect of high RSA. In the second study, higher amygdala activation while participants viewed negative mood-inducing pictures versus neutral pictures enhanced the daily stressor-fear relation.