Inter-individual variability in emotion regulation: Pathways to obsessive-compulsive symptoms

X. Goldberg, N. Cardoner, P. Alonso, C. López-Solà, E. Real, R. Hernández-Ribas, S. Jiménez-Murcia, M. Subirà, C. Segalàs, J. M. Menchón, C. Soriano-Mas

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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd Background Individuals vary in their use of emotion regulation strategies and this variation has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Previous studies suggest that affect and cognitive rigidity mediate this association, but such mediation effects have not yet been tested in an integrated model of inter-individual variation of OC symptoms. Methods We used a total sample of 111 subjects (79 OCD patients and 32 controls) and a path-analytic approach to simultaneously explore the associations between two emotion regulation strategies (i.e. cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression), positive and negative affect, and cognitive rigidity with obsessive-compulsive symptoms as the outcome variable. Results Results showed that 49% of the variance of OC symptoms was explained by the best-fitting model (χ2=0.915, p=0.922, df=4). Cognitive reappraisal was associated with reduced presence/severity of OC symptoms, and this association was mediated by positive affect and decreased cognitive rigidity. In contrast, expressive suppression was associated with negative affect, increased cognitive rigidity and increased presence/severity of OC symptoms. Conclusions A deep-rooted interconnection between emotion and cognition – indicated by both full and partial mediations – is a key mechanism underlying vulnerability to OC symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Affect
  • Cognitive rigidity
  • Emotion regulation
  • Mediation
  • Path analysis


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