Beliefs about emotions as a metacognitive construct: initial development of a self-report questionnaire measure and preliminary investigation in relation to emotion regulation.
Manser R., Cooper M., Trefusis J.
Metacognitive theory, amongst other theories, gives an important role to beliefs about mental states, including beliefs about emotions, in the maintenance of distress. Mentalization theory as well as the dialectical behaviour therapy and emotion-focused therapy literature specifies particular beliefs thought to be related to emotion dysregulation and therefore to a label of borderline personality disorder. The current study aimed to develop a questionnaire to measure the beliefs about emotions as specified by this literature and to test the relationship of this new measure to various aspects of emotion regulation in a non-clinical sample of 289 participants. A factor analysis extracted six factors, which described beliefs about emotions as (a) overwhelming and uncontrollable; (b) shameful and irrational; (c) invalid and meaningless; (d) useless; (e) damaging; and (f) contagious. The final measure showed some promising psychometric properties. All of the questionnaire subscales were related to aspects of emotion dysregulation including distress, borderline personality disorder symptoms and behaviours associated with dysregulation of emotion, suggesting that beliefs about emotions could be an important metacognitive construct involved in the ability to regulate emotions. Beliefs about emotions may be a useful direct or indirect target for treatment of difficulties regulating emotions, and this could be achieved through the use of various therapeutic modalities.