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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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49. Psychological Distancing as Emotion Regulation: The Moderating Role of Schizotypy

The benefit of psychological distancing as a component to emotional regulation remains inconclusive. Some evidence suggests that psychological distancing reduces negative affect and facilitates self-regulation while other research argues that it could lead to maladaptive avoidance. Thus, to demarcate potential boundary conditions of psychological distancing, the current study examined whether the extent to which individuals habitually distance themselves influences distancing efficacy. We examined the moderating effects of schizotypy (i.e., the multidimensional personality organization reflecting schizophrenia risk), which has been associated with maladaptive emotion regulation. Participants (N = 154) engaged in a free writing task followed by a mood assessment. Linguistic analyses showed that greater negative schizotypy scores were associated with trend-level lower distancing, while greater positive schizotypy scores were associated with greater distancing. Importantly, while greater distancing was associated with lower negative mood, this effect varied by participants’ positive and negative schizotypy scores. Greater distancing was only associated with lower negative mood when negative schizotypy scores were high or when positive schizotypy scores were low. Our findings reveal that benefits of psychological distancing depend upon an individual’s habitual psychological distance. Results imply that increasing psychological distance might be an effective regulation strategy for individuals with negative, but not positive, schizotypy.

Katie McGarigle
University of California, Irvine

Lilian Li
University of California, Irvine

Elizabeth Martin
University of California, Irvine


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