Natural Emotion Vocabularies and Borderline Personality Disorder

Entwistle, Charlotte and Horn, Andrea B. and Meier, Tabea and Hoemann, Katie and Miano, Annemarie and Boyd, Ryan L. (2023) Natural Emotion Vocabularies and Borderline Personality Disorder. journal of affective disorders reports, 14. ISSN 2666-9153

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Background Emotion dysregulation is a characteristic central to borderline personality disorder (BPD). Valuably, verbal behaviour can provide a unique perspective for studying emotion dysregulation in BPD, with recent research suggesting that the varieties of emotion words one actively uses (i.e., active emotion vocabularies [EVs]) reflect habitual experience and potential dysregulation therein. Accordingly, the present research examined associations between BPD and active EVs across two studies. Methods Study 1 (N = 530) comprised a large non-clinical sample recruited from online forums, whereby BPD traits were measured via self-report. Study 2 (N = 64 couples) consisted of mixed-gender romantic couples in which the woman had a BPD diagnosis, as well as a control group of couples. In both studies, participants’ verbal behaviours were analysed to calculate their active EVs. Results Results from both studies revealed BPD to be associated with larger negative EV (i.e., using a broad variation of unique negative emotion words), which remained robust when controlling for general vocabulary size and negative affect word frequency in Study 2. The association between BPD and negative EV was insensitive to context. Limitations Limitations of this research include: 1) the absence of a clinical control group; 2) typical constraints surrounding word-counting approaches; and 3) the cross-sectional design (causality cannot be inferred). Conclusions Our findings contribute to BPD theory as well as the broader language and emotion literature. Importantly, these findings provide new insight into how individuals manifesting BPD attend to and represent their emotional experiences, which could be used to inform clinical practice.

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Journal Article
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journal of affective disorders reports
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Deposited On:
08 Sep 2023 09:20
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:28