Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 48–62 | Cite as

Distress Intolerance Moderation of Attention to Emotion: An Eye-Tracking Study

  • Richard J. Macatee
  • Katherine A. McDermott
  • Brian J. Albanese
  • Norman B. Schmidt
  • Jesse R. CougleEmail author
Original Article


Distress intolerance (DI) is an important individual difference reflective of the inability to endure aversive affective states and is relevant to multiple clinical populations, but underlying emotional processing mechanisms remain unclear. The current study used eye-tracking to examine biased attention towards emotional stimuli at baseline and in the context of acute stress in a non-clinical sample (N = 165). We hypothesized that DI would incrementally predict greater stressor-elicited increases in sustained/delayed disengagement, but not initial orientation/facilitated engagement negative (i.e., threat, dysphoric) attention biases, and that DI’s association with maladaptive stress regulation would depend on these increases. Partially consistent with predictions, DI was only independently associated with stressor-elicited increases in sustained negative bias and, unexpectedly, decreases in sustained positive bias. Further, DI and change in sustained threat bias marginally interacted to predict cardiovascular but not subjective anxious mood recovery. Theoretical implications are discussed.


Attentional bias Eye-tracking Distress intolerance Mood induction Emotion 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Richard J. Macatee, Katherine A. McDermott, Brian J. Albanese, Norman B. Schmidt, and Jesse R. Cougle declares that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

10608_2017_9869_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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