Affective Dynamics Among Veterans: Associations With Distress Tolerance and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms

Jeffrey S. Simons, Raluca M. Simons, Kevin J. Grimm, Jessica A. Keith, Scott F. Stoltenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We tested a dynamic structural equation model (DSEM; Asparouhov, Hamaker, & Muthén, 2018) of positive and negative affect in 254 veterans with approximately 1.5 years of experience sampling data. The analysis provided estimates of several aspects of veteran's emotional experience including "trait" positive and negative affect (i.e., mean levels), inertia (i.e., tendency for emotions to self-perpetuate), innovation variance (conceptualized as lability, reactivity, or exposure to stressors), and cross-lagged associations between positive and negative affect. Veterans with higher trait negative affect had more negative affect inertia and innovation variance. This suggests a pattern whereby the veteran has more negative reactions, and negative emotions, in turn, tend to maintain themselves, contributing to higher trait negative affect. In contrast, veterans with higher trait positive affect exhibited more positive affect innovation variance (e.g., positive reactivity). Although veterans showed some consistency in dynamics across emotions (e.g., positive and negative reactivity were positively correlated), trait positive and negative affect were not significantly associated. Veterans with higher posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) at baseline exhibited higher reactivity to negative events, less positive affect, and more negative affect during the follow-up. Veterans with higher distress tolerance reported not only lower PTSS but also a more adaptive pattern of affective experience characterized by lower inertia and reactivity in negative affect and more positive lagged associations between negative affect and subsequent positive affect. The results demonstrated that distress tolerance and PTSS in veterans were associated with dynamics of positive and negative emotion over time, suggesting specific differences in affect regulation processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmotion
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

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Keywords

  • Affect regulation
  • EMA
  • ESM
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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