A Brief Report on the Assessment of Distress Tolerance: Are We Measuring the Same Construct?

Lisa H. Glassman, Lindsay M. Martin, Lauren E. Bradley, Arwa Ibrahim, Stephanie P. Goldstein, Evan M. Forman, James D. Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Distress tolerance (DT) refers to an individual’s capacity to cope with aversive internal (e.g., physical, cognitive, emotional) states. A growing body of evidence suggests that there is a relationship between DT and the development and maintenance of problematic behavioral patterns. Despite emerging evidence for such associations, a number of issues remain unresolved. The results of recent studies suggest problems with the convergent validity of the primary measures used to assess DT, despite the fact that these measures are used interchangeably in the DT literature. In order to further examine the relationships among DT assessments, we evaluated intercorrelations among various self-report and behavioral measures of DT in an unselected undergraduate sample (n = 83). Results indicate that two self-report measures of DT were highly correlated with one another, but that neither measure was significantly correlated with the behavioral measures. The relationships among the behavioral measures and between self-report and behavioral measures were weak and non-significant. Correlations between self-report measures only were strong. The findings partially replicate prior research indicating weak correlations between certain, commonly used measures of DT, and raise questions about the current conceptualization of the construct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Rational - Emotive and Cognitive - Behavior Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Distress tolerance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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