Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Amy L Gentzler
The purpose of the present study was to investigate how emotion regulation (ER) flexibility was related to illicit substance use among adolescents. The hypotheses were that higher levels of ER flexibility (indicated by higher levels of context sensitivity, a larger ER repertoire, and higher levels of responsiveness to feedback about ER) would be associated with lower levels of substance use, fewer substance-related problems, and lower tendency to use substances in emotion-laden situations. In an online survey, adolescent participants (aged 18 - 20; M = 19.00; SD = 0.74; 77.1% female) answered questions about emotion regulation, illicit substance involvement and other emotion-relevant characteristics. Various indices of ER flexibility were created and their associations with levels of substance use, substance-related problems, and tendency to use substances in emotion-laden situations were examined. Moderation analyses were also performed to identify emotion-relevant factors (i.e., mood, temperament reactivity, and urgency to act rashly in response to intense emotional experiences) that might impact the aforementioned associations. Additional indices of ER flexibility were also explored post-hoc. Results were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Counter to expectations, a larger ER repertoire for negative emotions was associated with more substance-related problems, whereas a larger ER repertoire for positive emotions was associated with higher levels of substances but lower tendency to use substances in positive situations. Furthermore, some of these associations were moderated by negative urgency and positive emotionality such that a larger ER repertoire for negative emotions was associated with more substance-related problems among individuals with higher levels of negative urgency, whereas a larger ER for positive emotions was related to lower tendency to use substances in positive situations for individuals with lower levels of positive emotionality. Another moderating effect, which was consistent with hypotheses, indicated that higher levels of responsiveness to feedback about positive ER was associated with lower levels of substance use for individuals who reported higher levels (but not lower levels) of positive mood. Overall, most of the findings were not consistent with the hypotheses, suggesting that there might be other factors (e.g., peer influence) that more strongly predict illicit substance use in the current sample or that there may be better ways to assess ER flexibility.
Yi, Chit Yuen, "Emotion Regulation Flexibility and Illicit Substance Use among Adolescents" (2015). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7006.