BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In order to clarify mechanisms underlying the association between emotion regulation and psychopathology, we tested whether the ability to modify negative emotions mediates the associations of other emotion-regulation skills with psychopathological symptoms in two studies.
METHODS: The first study included 151 college students; the second included 121 psychiatric inpatients. Bootstrapping-enhanced mediation analyses were utilized to assess associations between self-reports of emotion-regulation skills and psychopathology, as well as potential mediation effects.
RESULTS: In both samples, the ability to modify emotions completely mediated the association between symptoms and skills for most skills, but not for the skill of accepting/tolerating negative emotions.
LIMITATIONS: Major limitations include the use of a cross-sectional design as well as exclusive use of self-report data.
CONCLUSIONS: The ability to modify negative emotions may be the common pathway by which many emotion-regulation skills exert their influence on mental health; however, the skill of accepting/tolerating negative emotions may be beneficial to mental health regardless of whether or not it facilitates modification of emotions.