Positive Emotion Dysregulation Among Community Individuals: The Role of Trauma Exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Existing literature has provided support for an association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and emotion dysregulation. However, few studies have examined the relation between PTSD and emotion dysregulation that stems from positive emotions. Moreover, the role of trauma exposure, per se, on positive emotion dysregulation is unknown. Addressing these limitations, the current study compared levels of positive emotion dysregulation among (a) individuals without trauma exposure, (b) trauma-exposed individuals without probable PTSD, and (c) trauma-exposed individuals with probable PTSD. Participants were 400 community-dwelling individuals (M age = 43.76 years, 68.6% female; 24.2% Asian, 23.7% Black, 24.5% Hispanic, 27.6% White). Lower levels of positive emotion dysregulation were found among trauma-exposed participants without probable PTSD compared to trauma-exposed participants with probable PTSD, ds = 0.66–0.73, and unexposed participants, ds = 0.58–0.64. The present findings suggest the potential protective role of low levels of positive emotion dysregulation following trauma exposure. If replicated in longitudinal studies, these results may indicate the utility of enhancing skills for regulating positive emotions among individuals at risk for trauma exposure.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Traumatic Stress