The Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale Short Form (DERS-SF): Validation and Replication in Adolescent and Adult Samples

  • Erin A. Kaufman
  • Mengya Xia
  • Gregory Fosco
  • Mona Yaptangco
  • Chloe R. Skidmore
  • Sheila E. CrowellEmail author


Emotion dysregulation often emerges early in development and is a core feature of many psychological conditions. The Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) is a well validated and widely used self-report measure for assessing emotion regulation problems among adolescents and adults. The DERS has six subscales with five to eight items each (36 total), suggesting multiple questions may assess similar underlying constructs. In an effort to reduce respondent burden and streamline this widely-used instrument, we created a short-form version of the DERS (DERS-SF) using confirmatory factor analysis on data from three adolescent (n = 257) and two adult samples (n = 797). Scores on the DERS-SF yielded similar correlation patterns relative to the full measure, ranging from .90 to .98 and reflecting 81–96 % shared variance. This instrument maintains the excellent psychometric properties and retains the total and subscale scores of the original measure with half the items.


Emotion regulation Assessment Factor analysis Short-form Validation 



The authors would like to acknowledge the research participants, and the following collaborators: Daniel Bride, Clairece Schelfler, Julia Chandler, Lora Manriques, and Erik Hanson.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Erin A. Kaufman, Mengya Xia, Gregory Fosco, Mona Yaptangco, Chloe R. Skidmore and Sheila E. Crowell declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Experiment Participants

All procedures described in the manuscript were carried out in accordance with APA ethical standards.


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1987). Manual for the youth self-report and profile. Burlington: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M. (1991a). Manual for the youth self-report and profile. Burlington: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  3. Achenbach, T. M. (1991b). Manual for the child behavior checklist/4-18 and 1991 profile. Burlington: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  4. Achenbach, T. M., Edelbrock, C., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Empirically based assessment of the behavioral/emotional problems of 2- and 3-year-old children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 629–650. doi: 10.1007/BF00917246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnes, L. L. B., Harp, D., & Jung, W. S. (2002). Reliability generalization of scores on the Spielberger state-trait anxiety inventory. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 603–618. doi: 10.1177/0013164402062004005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beauchaine, T. P., & Thayer, J. F. (2015). Heart rate variability as a transdiagnostic biomarker of psychopathology. International Journal if Psychophysiology. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.08.004.Google Scholar
  7. Beauchaine, T. P., Gatzke-Kopp, L., & Mead, H. K. (2007). Polyvagal theory and developmental psychopathology: emotion dysregulation and conduct problems from preschool to adolescence. Biological Psychology, 74, 174–184. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.08.008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Beauducel, A., & Herzberg, P. Y. (2006). On the performance of maximum likelihood versus means and variance adjusted weighted least squares estimation in CFA. Structural Equation Modeling, 13, 186–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., Ball, R., & Ranieri, W. (1996). Comparison of beck depression inventories -IA and -II in psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Personality Assessment, 67, 588–597. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa6703_13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., & … Zettle, R. D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire–II: A revised measure of psychological inflexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42, 676–688.  10.1016/j.beth.2011.03.007
  11. Cappadocia, M., Desrocher, M., Pepler, D., & Schroeder, J. H. (2009). Contextualizing the neurobiology of conduct disorder in an emotion dysregulation framework. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 506–518. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.06.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cole, P. M. (2014). Moving ahead in the study of the development of emotion regulation. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 38, 203–207. doi: 10.1177/0165025414522170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cole, P. M., Michel, M. K., & Teti, L. O. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. In N. A. Fox (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation: Biological and behavioral considerations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59 (Serial No. 240), 73–100.Google Scholar
  14. Côté, G., Gosselin, P., & Dagenais, I. (2013). Évaluation multidimensionnelle de la régulation des émotions: propriétés psychométriques d’une version francophone du difficulties in emotion regulation scale psychometric properties of a french version of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 23, 63–72. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcc.2013.01.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crowell, S. E., Beauchaine, T. P., McCauley, E., Smith, C., Stevens, A. L., & Sylvers, P. D. (2005). Psychological, physiological, and serotonergic correlates of parasuicidal behavior among adolescent girls. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 1105–1127. doi: 10.1017/S0954579405050522.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Crowell, S. E., Baucom, B. R., Yaptangco, M., Bride, D., Hsiao, R., McCauley, E., & Beauchaine, T. P. (2014). Emotion dysregulation and dyadic conflict in depressed and typical adolescents: evaluating concordance across psychophysiological and observational measures. Biological Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.02.009.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Derogatis, L. R., & Lazarus, L. (1994). SCL-90—R, brief symptom inventory, and matching clinical rating scales. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcome assessment (pp. 217–248). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Donnellan, M. B., Oswald, F. L., Baird, B. M., & Lucas, R. E. (2006). The mini-IPIP scales: tiny-yet-effective measures of the Big five factors of personality. Psychological Assessment, 18, 192–203. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.18.2.192.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dvorak, R. D., Sargent, E. M., Kilwein, T. M., Stevenson, B. L., Kuvaas, N. J., & Williams, T. J. (2014). Alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences: associations with emotion regulation difficulties. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 40, 125–130. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2013.877920.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Edwards, P., Roberts, I., Clarke, M., DiGuiseppi, C., Pratap, S., Wentz, R., & Kwan, I. (2002). Increasing response rates to postal questionnaires: systematic review. British Medical Journal, 324, 1183–1185. doi: 10.1136/bmj.324.7347.1183.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Eisenberg, N., & Spinrad, T. L. (2004). Emotion-related regulation: sharpening the definition. Child Development, 75, 334–339. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00674.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Folk, J. B., Zeman, J. L., Poon, J. A., & Dallaire, D. H. (2014). A longitudinal examination of emotion regulation: pathways to anxiety and depressive symptoms in urban minority youth. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. doi: 10.1111/camh.12058.Google Scholar
  23. Fossati, A., Feeney, J., Maffei, C., & Borroni, S. (2014). Thinking about feelings: affective state mentalization, attachment styles, and borderline personality disorder features among Italian nonclinical adolescents. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31, 41–67. doi: 10.1037/a0033960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gadow, K. D., Sprafkin, J., Carlson, G., Schneider, J., Nolan, E. E., Mattison, R. E., & Rundberg-Rivera, V. (2002). A DSM-IV-referenced adolescent self-report rating scale. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 671–679.Google Scholar
  25. Gratz, K. L. (2001). Measurement of deliberate self-harm: preliminary data on the deliberate self-harm inventory. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 23, 253–263. doi: 10.1023/A:1012779403943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 41–54. doi: 10.1023/B:JOBA.0000007455.08539.94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gratz, K. L., & Tull, M. T. (2010). The relationship between emotion dysregulation and deliberate self-harm among inpatients with substance use disorders. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 34, 544–553. doi: 10.1007/s10608-009-9268-4.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., Wilson, K. G., Bissett, R. T., Pistorello, J., Toarmino, D., & … McCurry, S. M. (2004). Measuring experiential avoidance: a preliminary test of a working model. The Psychological Record, 54, 553–578.Google Scholar
  29. Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Fang, A., & Asnaani, A. (2012). Emotion dysregulation model of mood and anxiety disorders. Depression and Anxiety, 29, 409–416. doi: 10.1002/da.21888.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Jankowski, P. (2013). Identity status and emotion regulation in adolescence and early adulthood. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 44, 288–298. doi: 10.2478/ppb-2013-0032.Google Scholar
  31. Jankowski, P., & Rękosiewicz, M. (2013). Type of social participation and emotion regulation among upper secondary school students. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 44, 322–330. doi: 10.2478/ppb-2013-0035.Google Scholar
  32. Kaufman, E. A., Cundiff, J. M., & Crowell, S. E. (2015). The development, factor structure, and validation of the self-concept and identity measure (SCIM): A self-report assessment of clinical identity disturbance. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 9, 122–133. doi: 10.1007/s10862-014-9441-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kökönyei, G., Urbán, R., Reinhardt, M., Józan, A., & Demetrovics, Z. (2014). The difficulties in emotion regulation scale: factor structure in chronic pain patients. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70, 589–600. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22036.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lavender, J. M., Wonderlich, S. A., Peterson, C. B., Crosby, R. D., Engel, S. G., Mitchell, J. E., & … Berg, K. C. (2014). Dimensions of emotion dysregulation in bulimia nervosa. European Eating Disorders Review, 22, 212–216.  10.1002/erv.2288
  35. Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Linehan, M. M., & Comtois, K. A. (1996). Lifetime parasuicide count: Unpublished Manuscript.Google Scholar
  37. Mark, T., Johnson, G., Fortner, B., & Ryan, K. (2008). The benefits and challenges of using computer-assisted symptom assessments in oncology clinics: Results of a qualitative assessment. Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment, 7, 401–406. doi: 10.1177/153303460800700508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McLaughlin, K. A., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Mennin, D. S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2011). Emotion dysregulation and adolescent psychopathology: a prospective study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49, 544–554. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.06.003.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Mirzaei, M., Gharraee, B., & Birashk, B. (2014). The role of positive and negative perfectionism, self-efficacy, worry and emotion regulation in predicting behavioral and decisional procrastination. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, 19, 230–240.Google Scholar
  40. Mitchell, J. T., Robertson, C. D., Anastopolous, A. D., Nelson-Gray, R. O., & Kollins, S. H. (2012). Emotion dysregulation and emotional impulsivity among adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: results of a preliminary study. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 34, 510–519. doi: 10.1007/s10862-012-9297-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2013). Mplus: statistical analysis with latent variables. User’s guid (version 7.11). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  42. Neumann, A., van Lier, P. C., Gratz, K. L., & Koot, H. M. (2010). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation difficulties in adolescents using the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Assessment, 17, 138–149. doi: 10.1177/1073191109349579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Orgeta, V. (2009). Specificity of age differences in emotion regulation. Aging & Mental Health, 13, 818–826. doi: 10.1080/13607860902989661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Racine, S. E., & Wildes, J. E. (2013). Emotion dysregulation and symptoms of anorexia nervosa: the unique roles of lack of emotional awareness and impulse control difficulties when upset. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46, 713–720. doi: 10.1002/eat.22145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rolstad, S., Adler, J., & Rydén, A. (2011). Response burden and questionnaire length: is shorter better? a review and meta-analysis. Value In Health: The Journal of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, 14, 1101–1108. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2011.06.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sarıtaş-Atalar, D., Gençöz, T., & Özen, A. (2014). Confirmatory factor analyses of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale (DERS) in a Turkish adolescent sample. European Journal of Psychological Assessment. doi: 10.1027/1015-5759/a000199.Google Scholar
  47. Sarıtaş-Atalar, D., Gençöz, T., & Özen, A. (2015). Confirmatory factor analyses of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale (DERS) in a Turkish adolescent sample. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 31, 12–19. doi: 10.1027/1015-5759/a000199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Singh, P., & Singh, N. (2013). Difficulties in emotion regulation: a barrier to academic motivation and performance. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 39, 289–297.Google Scholar
  49. Smith, G. T., Combs, J. L., & Pearson, C. M. (2012). Brief instruments and short forms. In H. Cooper, P. M. Camic, D. L. Long, A. T. Panter, D. Rindskopf, & K. J. Sher (Eds.), APA handbook of research methods in psychology, Vol 1: foundations, planning, measures, and psychometrics (pp. 395–409). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/13619-021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spielberger, C. D., Vagg, P. R., Barker, L., Donham, G., & Westberry, L. (1980). The factor structure of the state-trait anxiety inventory. Stress and anxiety, 7, 95–109.Google Scholar
  51. Staples, A. M., & Mohlman, J. (2012). Psychometric properties of the GAD-Q-IV and DERS in older, community-dwelling GAD patients and controls. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26, 385–392. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2012.01.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Thompson, R. A. (1994). Emotion regulation: A theme in search of definition. In N. A. Fox (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Biological and behavioral aspects. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59 (2–3, Serial no. 240), 25–52.Google Scholar
  53. US Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration; Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER); Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER); Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), 2009. Guidance for Industry Patient-Reported Outcome Measures: Use in Medical Product Development to Support Labeling Claims. Available from: Drugs/Guidance ComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM193282.pdf. [Accessed October 2, 2014].
  54. Vasilev, C. A., Crowell, S. E., Beauchaine, T. P., Mead, H. K., & Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. (2009). Correspondence between physiological and self-report measures of emotion dysregulation: A longitudinal investigation of youth with and without psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 1357–1364. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02172.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Weinberg, A., & Klonsky, E. (2009). Measurement of emotion dysregulation in adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 21, 616–621. doi: 10.1037/a0016669.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Weiss, N. H., Tull, M. T., Anestis, M. D., & Gratz, K. L. (2013). The relative and unique contributions of emotion dysregulation and impulsivity to posttraumatic stress disorder among substance dependent inpatients. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 128, 45–51. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.07.017.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Wilmer, J. B., Germine, L., Chabris, C. F., Chatterjee, G., Gerbasi, M., & Nakayama, K. (2012). Capturing specific abilities as a window into human individuality: the example of face recognition. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 29, 360–392. doi: 10.1080/02643294.2012.753433.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations