Emotional awareness, affective dysregulation, and bipolar spectrum psychopathology: A path analysis.
Affective dysregulation is present in those with subsyndromal symptoms of hypomania and mania and prospectively predicts the development of bipolar spectrum disorders. A crucial, understudied area related to the experience and regulation of emotion in this population is emotional awareness – emotional clarity (Clarity) and attention to emotion (Attention). We examined whether scores on the Hypomanic Personality Scale (HPS) were associated with deficits in emotional awareness and whether these deficits were associated with heightened intensity and instability of negative (NA) and positive affect (PA). Young adults (n=233), oversampled for high HPS scores completed self-reports and 14 days of experience sampling assessing high and low arousal NA and PA. HPS scores were associated with low Clarity and unassociated with Attention. High HPS scores were associated with greater high and low arousal NA intensity and instability only for those at low and mean levels of Attention. In contrast, there was a significant indirect association between HPS scores and intensity of high and low arousal NA and PA, as well as instability of high arousal NA, through low Clarity. Results highlighted that individual differences exist in the extent to which facets of emotional awareness differentially link scores on the HPS to emotional outcomes.