Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Trauma Exposure Interacts with Impulsivity in Predicting Emotion Regulation and Depressive Mood

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Trauma Exposure Interacts with Impulsivity in Predicting Emotion Regulation and Depressive Mood

Article excerpt


Trauma exposure interacts with impulsivity in predicting emotion regulation and depressive mood

Grazia Ceschi1*, Joël Billieux2, Melissa Hearn1, Guillaume Fürst1 and Martial Van der Linden1

1Clinical Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; 2Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Science Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium


Background : Traumatic exposure may modulate the expression of impulsive behavioral dispositions and change the implementation of emotion regulation strategies associated with depressive mood. Past studies resulted in only limited comprehension of these relationships, especially because they failed to consider impulsivity as a multifactorial construct.

Objective : Based on Whiteside and Lynam's multidimensional model that identifies four distinct dispositional facets of impulsive-like behaviors, namely urgency, (lack of) premeditation, (lack of) perseverance, and sensation seeking (UPPS), the current study used a sample of community volunteers to investigate whether an interaction exists between impulsivity facets and lifetime trauma exposure in predicting cognitive emotion regulation and depressive mood.

Methods : Ninety-three adults completed questionnaires measuring lifetime trauma exposure, impulsivity, cognitive emotion regulation, and depressive mood.

Results : Results showed that trauma-exposed participants with a strong disposition toward urgency (predisposition to act rashly in intense emotional contexts) tended to use fewer appropriate cognitive emotion regulation strategies than other individuals. Unexpectedly, participants lacking in perseverance (predisposition to have difficulties concentrating on demanding tasks) used more appropriate emotion regulation strategies if they had experienced traumatic events during their life than if they had not. Emotion regulation mediated the path between these two impulsivity facets and depressive mood.

Conclusions : Together, these findings suggest that impulsivity has a differential impact on emotion regulation and depressive mood depending on lifetime exposure to environmental factors, especially traumatic events.

Keywords: Trauma; impulsivity; cognitive emotion regulation; well-being; depressive mood; UPPS

*Correspondence to: Grazia Ceschi, Abnormal Emotion and Trauma Lab, Clinical Psychology, FPSE, University of Geneva, Bd du Pont d'Arve 40, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland, Email:

For the abstract or full text in other languages, please see Supplementary files under Article Tools online

Received: 17 February 2014; Revised: 18 August 2014; Accepted: 5 September 2014; Published: 29 September 2014

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014. © 2014 Grazia Ceschi et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5 : 24104 -

There is strong evidence that emotional distress after trauma varies in its frequency, severity, and quality (Brewin, 2003). Currently, it is widely acknowledged that short- and long-term posttraumatic outcomes may extend far beyond clinical posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Ceschi, Hearn, Billieux, & Van der Linden, 2011). …

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