Journal article

Self-reported emotion regulation difficulties are associated with mood but not with the biological stress response to thin ideal exposure

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  • PLOS ONE. - 2018, vol. 13, no. 6, p. 1-18
English Background Difficulties in emotion regulation have been related to psychological and physiological stress responses such as lower mood and lower parasympathetic activation (HF-HRV) under resting condition, but evidence on the potential link to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning and to physiological stress responses during a stress task is still scarce. The aim of the study was to investigate stress responses in young women when confronted to a daily stressor such as exposure to thin ideals and to understand the role of correlates of self-reported trait-like emotion regulation difficulties (ERD). Methods Heart rate variability (HRV) and salivary cortisol data were collected in a sample of 273 young women aged 18–35 with and without mental disorders during a vivid imagination of thin ideals (experimental condition) or landscapes (control condition). Changes in mood states were measured on a visual analogue scale (0–100). Correlates of trait-like ERD were self-reported using the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). Results Participants with higher ERD showed a stronger decline in self-reported mood after vivid imagination of thin ideals compared to participants with lower ERD in the experimental condition but also a stronger increase of positive mood with increasing ERD in the control condition. ERD were not related to baseline HF-HRV or baseline salivary cortisol levels nor to any physiological response during and after the imagination of thin ideals. Discussion and conclusion The results corroborate the role of ERD regarding the immediate psychological impact of daily stressors. Exposition to daily stressors in the laboratory results in discrepant psychological and physiological reactivity. Future studies should investigate under what conditions the complex interrelations between immediate and long-term ERD and biological activation are amenable to assessment in a laboratory setting. The additive effects of multiple exposition to stressors, such as thin ideals in daily life, also need to be addressed.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Psychologie
  • English
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