Facing others’ misfortune: Personal distress mediates the association between maladaptive emotion regulation and social avoidance

Delphine Grynberg, Belén López-Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research has linked the use of certain emotion regulation strategies to the vicarious experience of personal distress (PD) and empathic concern (EC). However, it has not yet been tested whether (1) vicarious PD is positively associated with maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, (2) vicarious EC is positively associated with adaptive emotion regulation strategies or whether (3) PD and EC mediate the link between emotion regulation and reports of approach/avoidance in response to a person in distress. To that end, we assessed people’s reports of PD (i.e., anxious, troubled and upset) and EC (i.e., concerned, sympathetic and soft-hearted) in response to a video depicting a person in a threatening situation (n = 78). Afterwards, we assessed participants’ reports of avoidance and approach with regard to the character and their disposition to use maladaptive and adaptive emotion regulation strategies. Results showed that both PD and EC were positively related to maladaptive strategies and negatively related to adaptive strategies, and that the association between maladaptive regulation strategies (i.e., rumination) and the willingness to avoid the person in distress was mediated by reports of greater PD. This study thus expands previous evidence on the relationship between maladaptive regulation strategies and affective empathy and provides novel insights into the main role that PD plays in the association between maladaptive strategies and social avoidance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0194248
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2018

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