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Theoretical conceptualizations highlight emotional reactivity as a core problem for borderline personality disorder (BPD); however, empirical work investigating emotional reactivity in BPD has produced mixed and inconclusive findings. The current study aimed to clarify emotional reactivity in adults diagnosed with BPD (N = 22) and healthy controls (HCs; N = 31) using a controlled, laboratory experiment that assessed multiple indices of emotional reactivity (i.e., subjective, psychophysiological, and facial expressive) in response to auditory stimuli (i.e., standardized vs. personally-relevant; pleasant vs. unpleasant sounds). The BPD group was characterized by higher self-reported arousal and lower valence to personally-relevant unpleasant sounds compared to HCs. Supporting study hypotheses, participants in the BPD group showed heightened skin conductance responses, specifically to unpleasant personally-relevant sounds, compared to HCs. No differences were found between BPD and HC groups on facial expressive responses. Findings replicate and extend previous studies on this topic, and highlight the need to further refine the characterization of emotional reactivity in BPD to include personally-relevant unpleasant stimuli.
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- Emotional Reactivity to Personally-Relevant and Standardized Sounds in Borderline Personality Disorder
M. Zachary Rosenthal
Andrada D. Neacsiu
Paul J. Geiger
- Springer US