A Comparison of Three Theoretically Important Constructs: What Accounts For Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?


Please address correspondence to: Jennifer S. Cheavens, 147 Psychology Building, 1835 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: cheavens.1@osu.edu



Theories point to different mechanisms through which borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms may be developed and maintained: (a) emotion regulation dysfunction, (b) problematic relations, and (c) nonintegrated self. However, researchers have not investigated the relative contribution of these mechanisms simultaneously in accounting for the variance observed in BPD symptoms.


Drawing from university students and Internet users, 462 adults (63% female, 77% Caucasian) completed self-report measures of emotion regulation, interpersonal problems, sense of self, BPD symptoms, and depressive symptoms.


All predictors were independently associated with BPD symptoms, with emotion regulation difficulties having the strongest relation. For high BPD individuals (N = 94), emotional regulation difficulties was the only predictor uniquely associated with BPD symptoms and interpersonal problems was the sole unique predictor of depressive symptoms.


These results suggest that emotion regulation difficulties and interpersonal problems may be particularly problematic for those with high BPD symptoms in different ways. Implications and future directions are discussed.