Distress intolerance as a moderator of the relationship between daily stressors and affective symptoms: Tests of incremental and prospective relationships. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Distress intolerance (DI) is conceptualized as an individual difference reflective of the ability to tolerate aversive psychological states. Although high DI has demonstrated cross-sectional associations with multiple forms of psychopathology, few studies have tested key facets of its theoretical conceptualization. Specifically, little research has been conducted on DI's theorized role as an incrementally valid prospective moderator of the relationship between daily stressful events and affective symptoms reflective of preoccupation with aversive internal (e.g., depression, worry) rather than external stimuli (e.g., social anxiety). METHOD: A non-clinical sample (N = 147; 77% female; M age = 19.32) in which high DI individuals were oversampled was recruited. Participants completed baseline measures of DI and trait negative affect followed by six diary entries over a two-week period in which participants reported on daily stressors, negative affect, worry, depressive, and social anxiety symptoms. RESULTS: Hierarchical linear models revealed that DI positively predicted depressive and worry, but not social anxiety symptoms, independent of daily stressors and negative affect. Further, a significant interaction effect was found such that the positive association between daily stressor(s) occurrence and daily worry was significant at high, but not low DI, and a similar trend-level interaction effect was observed for depressive symptoms. The interaction for social anxiety symptoms was non-significant LIMITATIONS: Utilization of a non-clinical sample precludes generalization of results to clinical samples. Only self-reported DI was assessed, limiting conclusions to perceived as opposed to behaviorally-indexed DI. CONCLUSIONS: Results largely supported DI's theoretical conceptualization as an incrementally valid moderator of stress responding with relevance to particular affective symptoms.

published proceedings

  • J Affect Disord

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Macatee, R. J., Albanese, B. J., Allan, N. P., Schmidt, N. B., & Cougle, J. R.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Macatee, Richard J||Albanese, Brian J||Allan, Nicholas P||Schmidt, Norman B||Cougle, Jesse R

publication date

  • December 2016